WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama presented the final budget proposal of his presidency Tuesday, a $4.15 trillion package that he is calling "a road map to a future that embodies
America's values and aspirations."
The proposal would boost total spending by 4.9 percent, mainly as a result of increases in mandatory programs, most notably Social Security, and a rise in interest payments on the national debt. The president requested only a slight increase, less than 1 percent, in discretionary spending programs overall, although Republicans blasted him for promoting profligate spending.
Under the proposal, the federal deficit would shrink to $503 billion in fiscal 2017, down from the current fiscal year but substantially more than the $438 billion figure for last year that Obama has been using when boasting about deficit reduction. In the plan, the federal deficit over the next decade would average 2.6 percent of gross domestic product, the same as its share of the economy for fiscal 2017.
Many budget experts say that any president's final budget proposal is as much a philosophical as a pragmatic one, given election-year politics and anticipation about what a new commander in chief's priorities might be. And Republicans in Congress immediately pronounced Obama's proposal dead on arrival.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said that "this isn't even a budget so much as it is a progressive manual for growing the federal government at the expense of hardworking Americans." He said in a statement that "we need to tackle our fiscal problems before they tackle us."
But White House budget director Shaun Donovan said that "conventional wisdom is wrong" and that the Republicans' refrain about the president's budget being a non-starter was "a talking point we've heard every single year."