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tv   Washington Journal Caitlin Emma  CSPAN  April 15, 2021 4:15am-4:42am EDT

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announcer: washington journal continues. host: we are joyed to next by "politico" budget and appropriations reporter caitlin emma to talk about the $1.5 trillion discretionary spending plan. good morning. guest: good morning. host: this is just called the
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discretionary budget, but what else makes up the rest of the president's budget and how much is that grand total expected to be? guest: what we saw released last week was what you called the discretionary spending request. that would be for fiscal 2022, which begins on october 1. essentially, discretionary spending only makes up a third of the total federal budget. so, this is funding for all federal agencies, for all domestic programs, non-defense programs, in addition to the pentagon. this does not encompass the full federal budget, like i said it is about $1.5 trillion in this request, but in addition to that you have mandatory spending on programs like medicare and social security, tax proposals -- all that is a supposedly
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forthcoming in the coming weeks from the white house, may be month, but for now they released this request for federal agencies so congressional appropriators can get started writing the annual spending bills and getting the government process started. host: the headline to one of the pieces on the budget actually frames it, "biden, $1.5 trillion budget includes the 16% domestic spending boost." when is the last time domestic spending had been increased on that level or has it been? guest: this is a huge proposed domestic spending increase. it's worth noting that the president's budget is by no means a document that congress has to adhere to, this is a proposal, what the white house wants to see. in many ways it is a messaging document. some people call it a wishlist. the president proposes and
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congress disposes, is a common phrase, but the president is saying he wants increases to non-defense programs, like health programs, labor programs, educational programs, things like that. that's is what we are seeing in terms of the priorities, so a 60% increase is huge, -- 16% increase is huge. he's only proposing a very marginal increase for military funding. and we have already seen that run into resistance from both republicans and progressives. this is just a messaging document, but there is a clear emphasis here on the need for domestic investments. host: we are talking about the proposed budget. we welcome your calls. 202-748-8001 for republicans. democrats, 202-748-8000. 202-748-8002 for independents.
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this is completely separate from what may be, or certainly from the $1.9 trillion approved for covid spending last month, and separate from any proposed infrastructure package the president is likely to propose in the coming weeks. guest: right, many different numbers floating around. congress did pass that relief package last month. and this is separate. this is proposed government funding for fiscal 2022, beginning on october 1. and then separate from that is also the president's proposed to trillion dollar plus infrastructure plan, but what we have been told by the white house is in the coming weeks, as the president looks to release his fuller budget request, which will include proposals for tax reform, i believe that the white house is going to look to essentially tie in the
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infrastructure plan together with fiscal 2022 funding, in ingrained division for spending for the next year and years to come. host: let's go over to the audience. but first, let's talk about the topline numbers. the $1.5 trillion proposal includes over $69 billion for non-defense programs, $753 billion for defense programs, an increase domestically, and a 1.7% increase for the military. what has been some of the reaction to that figure on the military spending, 1.7%? guest: the military funding proposal is probably the most controversial here. initially, we saw praise from the top spending leaders on capitol hill, like the house appropriations chairwoman, folks like that, john yarmuth, both of them said this is a great starting point, we can work with
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this. but the president has to sort of walk a very difficult line on defense spending and it remains to be seen how he will do it. it's one of the most fascinating narratives to me for the next year, because you have progressives in the democratic party who want to take at least a 10% cut off the top of the pentagon's budget. that's their bottom line. they want to see spending cuts. they think that there is too much military waste, that we are spending way too much on the pentagon, and we need to invest that money into domestic programs like education, health and labor. so even a tiny increase of 1.7% over the previous year is too much for progressives. at the same time, republicans are saying, you are flat funding the military and this is never going to fly, and this is a big problem for us.
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and you will eventually need public -- need republican support to pass the package. so 1.7% is not going to be enough to earn that support. host: politico is reporting that the president will have an announcement this afternoon at 2:15 p.m. on withdrawing troops from afghanistan. is this a situation where he can say legitimately that there will be less of an expenditure in afghanistan, so $1.7 trillion may be more appropriate? guest: it remains to be seen. you are probably going to have to compete julie -- capitulate the senate republicans and provide more funding for the military. the package will need support from at least 10 republicans in the senate to get through the senate. so, in my opinion, i think that progressives can be as loud as they want, but unless you want to provide funding for domestic agencies, you know, increasing
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budgets across federal departments, you are probably going to have to compromise by providing the pentagon with more money than the 1.7%. host: other figures. this is from the 2015 budget, $20 billion increase for title i grants for schools, $13 billion for climate change, $8.7 billion for the cdc, the department budget will rise, and no new wall money for border security, and three point $4 billion for the office of refugee resettlement. on the cdc budget, that is their biggest increase in many years, correct? guest: that would be the biggest increase in two decades, so you are talking about a major investment in public health. an issue is the cdc has suffered
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from underfunding for far too long, and in the middle of a pandemic that is pretty untenable, but some other figures you mentioned, like the increase for title i schools, that is huge, massive infusion of funding for that program, which serves low income schools. i was a former education reporter, so that really caught my eye in terms of something that is big. we are also talking about an investment in climate change, historic at $14 billion, but this is again a wish list, so it remains to be seen how this will shake out. host: we will go first to john in chicago, good morning. caller: good morning. host: go ahead. caller: i think it is simple, we need to stop wasteful spending. how are we trillions of dollars in debt, the greatest nation on earth? i will tell you why.
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it's because of people like bdien and -- biden and others, they are the cause of all of this going on in the u.s. right now. god bless president donald trump. that's all i got to say. guest: well, you raised a good point. many folks are concerned about the national debt and there's a lot of a conservative people who feel like there needs to be more focus on that. it's a big topic among economists in terms of are we spending too much and at what point does the federal debt become a problem. the only issue with that is th ere really isn't a tipping point. nobody is quite sure what it is and at what point other countries sort of lose faith in the united states in that way. so, folks would argue that we could afford this and we can
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afford to spend trillions on pandemic need and infrastructure. and annual government funding come in comparison to that, is a drop in the bucket, but many people say these investments are needed now in order to put the country in a more stable spot, in order to put the economy in a more stable spot, then to come back in the future and maybe talk about ways we can bring the debt down and shrink the deficit. host: beverly in richmond, virginia on the independent line. caller: i'm calling concerning senior citizens. my concern is, if we continue to help all these other countries, what is going to end up with our , you know, our checks? i only get $1600 a year, and i do not have enough to cover my bills. we senior citizens, a lot of us
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want to work, but as soon as we start working, they take away from our checks, so most do not want to go out and lose anything that they are sure to get. i want to know if we can do anything to keep senior citizens that want to work, to work? host: will there be changes, any changes to social security or medicare benefits? guest: great question. so, the proposal that was released last week by the white house is a discretionary funding request, it just involves money, simply it is money for federal agencies. discretionary spending is a third of the federal budget, it does not touch programs that are categorized as mandatory funding, like medicare, medicaid, social security. we expect to see in more fuller
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budget request from the white house in terms of what they would like to do there. certainly, there is pressure from advocates and folks across the country to make investments in social security that will ensure the program's sustainability. the program is facing challenges in terms of insolvency in the coming years, in the near future, and some would argue that the pandemic has made that worse. so it will be interesting to see what they propose were social security and programs like medicare and medicaid. host: the cabinet this week will begin going to capitol hill to testify. one will testify before the appropriations subcommittee on the usda's 2022 budget. we will also hear from the transportation secretary tomorrow, and the hhs secretary. if there is a theme to the wish list, that we will hear from the cabinet secretaries in the
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hearings, what is it? guest: historic investment in domestic programs. the non-defense programs, programs that do not involve the pentagon or military. that's because we are now on the other side of what was 10 years of strict funding limits under the budget control act. that set limits on how much congress can spend for 10 years, a 2011 law. now that we are in fiscal 2021, 2022 will be the first year we are outside of those caps. so folks feel like domestic programs, health programs, labor programs and education programs have been shortchanged essentially for a decade because we had to adhere to these budget caps. so now that we are beyond that, congress has an opportunity to course correct, if they want, and rein in military funding.
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but we are essentially in a free zone when it comes the budget policy, where congress can decide which levels are appropriate for domestic programs and what's appropriate for the pentagon. that will be the subject of a lot of upcoming spending debates. host: the committee had this to say. the president's proposal is a good reminder on the need to extend the caps that expire at the end of this year, importantly it encompasses only a third of the budget and we cannot truly evaluate the president's agenda until we know how he will address the other two thirds of the budget and what he will do with taxes. it sounds like there is not much appetite on capitol hill for a return to spending caps. guest: there is not. that would be -- host: on both sides of the aisle. guest: on both sides. i have not heard republicans
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talking about reinstating the discretionary spending caps, which is a good point. when you talk about where we are at the moment, coming off or still in the middle of a global health crisis, trying to get everybody in the country vaccinated, trying to ensure that the labor market gets back to a stable place, ensuring that the economic growth that's been predicted bears itself out -- no one is really talking about the need for a new era of fiscal austerity. will that change? possibly in the next few years. but the democrats have a slim majority at the moment and it does not seem that that is a discussion that the white house and democrats want to have. host: michael in pennsylvania, democrats line. caller: good morning. i want to say it is funny how the previous administration gives tax cuts to some of the
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wealthiest companies in our country and at the republicans are fine with that. now that biden wants to invest in america, and truly make it great again, there's all this pushback. we need -- we are in the middle of a global pandemic, obviously millions have lost their jobs, companies have been decimated, so this investment is needed. these are things that are here domestically that will help the economy. i do not see where investing in broadband for rural areas is a bad thing. we are trying to make transportation more efficient. our system is probably one of the worst, if you compare it to europe or japan. these are things i feel like the government should do in cooperation with private partnerships, to make america better. so, i am for any investment in the u.s. and the one thing i believe, if all these oil workers want a
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job, they need to invest money in these people so they do not feel left behind. guest: you bring up a good point with the tax cuts. in 2017, republicans used the budget reconciliation process to push through this huge package of tax cuts, which contributed significantly to the federal deficit. and the budget reconciliation process allowed them to move that package through congress without democratic support because republicans at the time controlled both chambers of congress and the white house. now we are on the other side, where democrats last month he used the budget reconciliation process to pass the coronavirus relief package through congress without republican support. when you are talking about the tax cuts, that is definitely a big talking point for democrats right now. republicans were comfortable
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pushing that through in 2017, and contributing to the deficit and giving corporations tax breaks. now the pendulum is swinging the other way, where they democrats want to raise the corporate tax rate in order to make major investments in infrastructure and other major investments in public health and what is called human infrastructure. and sort of trying to level the playing field. but one part of the president's proposed infrastructure package it would raise the rate from 21% to 28%, and that is one of the president's major payers for the package and that he wants to move through congress. already we have seen resistance to that from moderate democrats, republicans. democrats do not need the republicans to get it through congress, but it does not look like the tax cut as proposed will bear itself out.
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i think we will see more from the white house in terms of where are they comfortable negotiating on a corporate tax rate, what they may propose in the fuller budget proposal. it will probably be interesting because it sort of illustrates their desire to pay for the infrastructure investments, but also there will probably be proposals there, within the 10 year budget window, how they want to find the government -- fund the government and how they want to pay for it. and i believe it will involve increasing taxes on the wealthy and on corporations. host: a question, "how does a student loan forgiveness factor into the budget?" guest: this is one area that is very interesting to pay attention to with the biden white house. my colleagues on the education team have done a lot of
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interesting writing on this, but essentially the president is under pressure to unilaterally cancel student loan debt via executive order. and he is getting pressure from top congressional democrats to do that. the white house is taking a more measured approach, where they do not seem to be completely comfortable with doing that. apparently, from what i have read from my colleagues, they want to have the justice department look into the president's authority to do some of that, but there are progressive democrats and top democrats that feel like the president can step out right now and cancel student debt. but the white house is being more cautious. host: here's rory with us from california. caller: my name is rory. two things. one, federal money is being
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stolen from the stimulus in california. $16 billion in the deal, and $11 billion has been hacked and stolen. the state has lousy computers. the other thing is more serious. now that everybody is talking about the federal --, on the republican side, they are about to do the same. we have 400 million californians, and womb billion fraud votes -- and 1 billion fraud votes. the votes would be fraud for everybody. host: a little off topic. let's go to tim. caller: i appreciate your time. is there a vehicle -- the f35
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has been a failure project. i was going to talk about a lot of other things, but do we have to be in for a trillion? i want to hear your response. host: did you understand the question? guest: in terms of, i think you are asking about, do we have to take action to rein in the deficit? host: yep. i wasn't clear, but on that line, let me ask about the potential in terms of what the senate might do with the question from mike in cleveland. budget reconciliation, is it in play to get this past in congress, specifically in the senate? guest: that is the talk of the
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day, everyday, at least for me, because i am a budget reporter, but budget reconciliation is this really arcane wonky tool that one party in power can use to pass a major piece of legislation that affects federal spending, revenues or the debt. get that through congress, get that through the senate, without republican support. so this tool allows you to avoid the legislative filibuster, which is democrats do not have the votes currently to eliminate. so this is a key tool to get the democrats' priorities through congress and not have to have support from 10 republicans to do that. so they have already used that to pass the pandemic aid package. that happened last month. typically, budget reconciliation is something that, when we think about it, it is limited in its
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use in terms of how often you can use it and exactly what you can use it for. both parties have used it to enact sweeping policy goals. earlier we talked about the republicans in 2017 using it to pass their tax cut package. so, both parties have stretched the limits of how this tool was originally envisioned to be used. what is happening now on capitol hill is interesting because the senate majority leader, chuck schumer, has asked the senate parliamentarian, a woman who is at the behind-the-scenes rules referee in the senate -- she's an expert on senate policy and procedure, and she plays a really outside role in the reconciliation process in sort of deciding what flies with the rules guiding that process, and what doesn't -- he's asked of the parliamentarian if they can
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revisit the same process they used to pass that aid package and unlock another opportunity at reconciliation to pass what have you, infrastructure, immigration reform has been on the table. essentially what chuck schumer is trying to do is ensure he has another tool to pass another piece of spending legislation. so, will they revisit that process? i do not know. they also have a budget proposal that they can use. but definitely reconciliation is on the table and multiple opportunities at reconciliation is on the table, which is unusual for a party in power. host: "politico" budget and appropriations reporter caitlin emma, talking about the discretionary spending plan. read her rep "washington journ

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