WASHINGTON, DC, February
8, 2005 (ENS): The federal budget plan proposed Monday
by President George W. Bush calls for reduced spending on the environment,
agriculture, education, low-income housing aid, and health care.
The $2.58 trillion spending plan cuts funding for 12 of 23 government
agencies, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) facing some of the larger
Bush told reporters Monday the budget is "lean" and follows
the priorities of "winning the war on terror, protecting our
homeland, growing our economy."
The plan contains a 4.8 percent increase in defense spending and
a 1.2 percent increase in spending for homeland security.
The proposed funding for the Department of Defense and the Department
of Homeland Security totals some $449 billion.
Bush said the proposal would trim the current budget deficit of
$497 billion to $390 billion – some 3.5 percent of gross domestic
product – and would scale back or eliminate 150 federal programs.
"It is a budget that focuses on results," Bush said. "Taxpayers
in America don't want us spending their money on something that's
not achieving results."
A slew of the proposed reductions were offered by the administration
– and rejected by Congress – last year.
The overall budget request increases discretionary federal spending
by some 2.1 percent over 2005 appropriations.
White House Office of Management and Budget Director Josh Bolton
said that bar defense, homeland security, and entitlement programs,
the $2.58 trillion spending plan trims discretionary federal spending
by 0.5 percent.
Bolton said the budget proposal represents the first proposed reduction
in spending since the Reagan administration and puts the nation
on track to meet Bush’s promise to halve the federal deficit
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, said
the proposal "reflects there are tough fiscal challenges ahead,
but challenges that can be overcome through strong economic policies
and spending restraint."
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the budget proposal is
"fiscally irresponsible, morally irresponsible, and a failure
The California Democrat called the plan a "hoax" because
it does not include funds for the war in Iraq or for the administration’s
proposed reform of Social Security, which could cost billions of
Administration officials said they would soon submit a supplemental
request for some $81 billion to fund the U.S. war effort in Iraq.
The plan slashes the budget of the Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) by 11.5 percent, the Transportation Department
by 6.6 percent, the USDA by 9.6 percent and the EPA by 5.6 percent.
The cuts at HUD center on housing aid to the poor and the much
of the decrease at the Transportation Departments comes from a major
reduction in subsidies for the Amtrak rail system.
The budget decrease in the USDA budget includes cuts to food stamp
payments and farm subsidy payments. Still, Agriculture Secretary
Mike Johanns said Monday that while Food Stamp participation increases
by 10 percent each year, the budget "includes resources to
fully fund estimated Food Stamp participation and also provides
a $3 billion contingency fund should actual costs exceed the estimated
The plan would drop the maximum amount of subsidies a farmer could
receive annually from $360,000 to $250,000, a move the administration
says that could save some $5.7 billion over the next 10 years.
The budget provides an increase of $7.5 million for an enhanced
mad cow disease research program and funding for continued testing
and implementation of the National Animal Identification System
to help prevent the spread of the fatal brain wasting disease.
The USDA budget proposal includes $100 million, an increase of
15 percent over 2005, for food and education for women and children
in need elsewhere in the world, Johanns said.
The annual budget for the U.S. Forest Service, which falls under
USDA, would drop from $4.28 billion to $4.06 billion under the budget
The $7.57 billion proposed for the EPA is some $500 million less
than the current budget for the agency, with the bulk of the cuts
coming from grants to states for upgrades to sewage treatment facilities
and clean water infrastructure.
President Bush is asking Congress to spend just $730 million on
the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund for the 2006 fiscal year,
slightly more than half of what was spent in 2004.
The administration proposed similar cuts last year, but Congress
reinstated the funds.
A coalition of local elected officials, drinking water and wastewater
service providers, state environmental and health program administrators,
labor, engineers and environmentalists, the Water Infrastructure
Network (WIN), said Monday that Congress should again reject the
Bush administration's proposed cuts to water infrastructure.
Studies by the EPA, the Congressional Budget Office, the Government
Accountability Office and WIN estimate a water infrastructure funding
gap of more than$300 billion over the next 20 years. Given this
mounting funding gap, WIN believes "it is untenable" for
the federal government to cut support for clean water in America.
American Rivers called on lawmakers to reject the proposed clean
water cuts and increase spending to $3.2 billion. "The administration
continues to turn a blind eye to the plight of local communities,
and putting off repairs just makes the final bill more expensive,"
said Betsy Otto, director of river advocacy for the river conservation
Officials said the cut to the EPA budget does not reflect a lack
of commitment to safeguarding the environment.
"The President's budget, coupled with our proven ability to
leverage outcomes through strategic partnerships, insures we will
continue to pick up the pace of protecting the public and the environment,
while fulfilling EPA's role in homeland security," said EPA
Acting Administrator Steve Johnson.
Johnson touted a $79 million increase for the agency’s homeland
security efforts, a $124 million increase for the Superfund program
as well as a $47 million boost for brownfields development.
The homeland security boost comes in the form of $44 million to
launch a pilot program of monitoring and surveillance in select
cities to provide early warning of contamination; an increase of
$19.4 million for environmental decontamination research and preparedness,
with an additional $4 million requested for the Safe Buildings research
program; and $11.6 million in new resources to support preparedness
in environmental laboratories.
The $10.8 billion budget for the U.S. Interior Department is a
one percent decrease from 2006 and includes cuts in funding for
the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Interior budget again calls on Congress to open the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, and estimates
the federal government could see some $1.2 billion in leasing revenues
by 2007 if Congress acts on the matter this year.
Interior Secretary Gale Norton told reporters the increased Republican
majorities in both the House and Senate means this year appears
to offer the "strongest opportunity" to open the refuge
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also faces a cut of 7.2 percent
under the Bush plan from $4.66 billion in 2005 to $4.3 billion in
American Rivers likes this part of the budget proposal. These savings
are achieved in part by cutting funding for "outdated, wasteful,
and environmentally destructive projects in the Mississippi River
and Tributaries Program," said the conservation group. Other
projects that received zero funding include the "destructive"
Grand Prairie Irrigation Demonstration Project in Arkansas, and
the Dallas Floodway Extension Project in Texas.
The budget prioritizes four restoration projects that, if properly
implemented, will provide environmental benefits for the nation,
American Rivers said. The budget provides $34 million for Upper
Mississippi River Restoration; $83 million for Missouri River Fish
and Wildlife Recovery; $102 million for Columbia River Fish Recovery;
and $137 million for Everglades Restoration.
"If the Missouri River restoration money is spent on the priorities
identified by the basin states and river stakeholders, it could
help improve the ecological condition of the Missouri River and
river's contribution to the economy of the basin," said Chad
Smith, director of American River's Nebraska Field Office.
The Bush budget would also cut spending at the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Department of
NOAA’s National Ocean Service is set for a $360 million decrease
and NOAA Fisheries is earmarked for a funding cut of $45 million.
The $23.4 billion proposed for the Energy Department is a two percent
decrease from the current year, but over $1 billion is budgeted
to support the development of what Bush called "reliable, affordable,
and emissions-free sources of energy, including hydrogen fuel, clean
coal, and cutting-edge nuclear technology."
The Energy Department cuts include a $20 million drop in funding
cuts for energy efficiency.
The Sustainable Energy Coalition says when cuts to renewable energy
programs are added the cuts amount to nearly $50 million - an overall
cut of roughly four percent.
Funds for distributed energy are cut six percent, geothermal energy
is cut by eight percent, energy efficient buildings are cut by 11
percent, biomass/biofuels cut 18 percent, industrial energy efficiency
cut 24 percent, and hydropower cut 90 percent.
Increased energy budget proposals favor the hydrogen program for
a five percent increase and the fuel cells program for a 12 percent
The 85 national and state business, consumer, environmental, and
energy policy organizations of the Sustainable Energy Coalition
call the Bush budget "penny-wise, pound-foolish" and say
it is "bad" for the environment, public health, homeland
and national security, jobs, the economy, and the development of
new basic industries.
"By cutting federal funding for energy efficiency, the Bush
budget takes the wrong approach at the wrong time," said Alliance
to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan. "Escalating oil,
gasoline, and natural gas prices are putting a stranglehold on business,
industry, and consumers alike and causing disruptive fluctuations
in financial markets. We need increases - not cuts - for crucial
energy-efficiency programs that help the nation reduce overall energy
use and lower costs."
The solar energy industry is happier with its slice of the budget
pie. Funding for solar energy research was cut by 1.3 percent, but
the Bush budget requests for $4.5 million for a new industry-led
Crystalline Silicon Initiative. This material is used for over 90
percent of worldwide photovoltaic production.
"We appreciate the administration’s continuing support
for solar energy research, especially given this year’s tight
budget situation," said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar
Energy Industry Association (SEIA). "The Administration’s
support for the new Crystalline Silicon Initiative is proof that
our federal government is committed to developing a high tech U.S.
But disadvantaged communities will suffer under the new Bush budget,
according to Mark Pinsky, president and CEO of the National Community
Capital Association. He said the budget would all but wipe out the
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund by cutting
it to $8 million. These 160 financial institutions invest in small
businesses, quality affordable housing, and community services that
benefit economically disadvantaged people and communities.
Pinsky is a presidential appointee to the CDFI Fund Advisory Board
in the Department of the Treasury and also serves as chair of the
Federal Reserve Board of Governors’ Consumer Advisory Council.
He said, "This seems to be part of a deliberate war of the
crumbs strategy under which a variety of interests and groups would
be set at each other’s throats to battle over an increasingly
small amount of funds."
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