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Climate fund included in Obama's 2015 budget proposal

President Barack Obama addresses Congress
President Barack Obama addresses Congress

President Barack Obama released the 2015 budget on Tuesday, which contained $1 billion for climate mitigation that would help the nation’s cities adapt and better prepare for ongoing climate extremes like frigid snow and ice storms, hurricanes, floods and droughts.

The climate fund is particularly relevant in the face of relentless snow storms that have hit the Midwest and Eastern states this winter due to an unstable jet stream caused by changing temperatures in the polar icecap regions.

Republicans object to the fund, but environmental groups applaud the president for giving for priority to reducing greenhouse gases, though Obama’s budget investments in natural-gas research and more development of fossil fuel sources was not as popular.

Nevertheless, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz praised the president’s move to create advancements in carbon capture for natural gas systems.

"To be a major player in a low carbon world, natural gas will require carbon capture technology, just like coal,” Moniz was quoted in The Hill.

In addition, Obama’s $3.9 trillion budget blueprint increases funding for low-income families, infrastructure (roads and bridges) and college students; partly by imposing a tax increase on multinational corporations and 1 percenters in the high-income bracket.

“The budget is not just about numbers, it’s about our values,” Obama said in a speech on Tuesday and quoted by Bloomberg Business Week. “It’s a roadmap for creating jobs” (in part through education), while it “adheres to the spending levels” agreed to by Congress, he said.

The 2015 proposal would expand the earned income credit for childless workers over 10 years for a total of $60 billion and cover children’s preschool to the tune of $66 billion, which would be paid for with tobacco taxes over a decade.

Derek Wallbank wrote in Bloomberg, “The budget would make permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit, benefiting about 11.5 million families and students with an average of more than $1,100 to help pay college costs.

Another proposal would simplify tax treatment of 9 million Pell grant recipients. The budget includes $7 billion for disaster relief and another $1 billion annually for wildfire suppression, reflecting an increasing fire risk in the Western U.S.”

Republicans are against the budget, which doesn’t surprise anyone who has followed Congressional activities since the election of President Obama.

“Folks just aren’t taking it very seriously, because it’s not a very serious document,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican facing a tough reelection in November.

Not all Democrats are totally happy with everything in the White House proposal.

Although, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA.) generally supports the budget, she was disappointed that funding for endangered Pacific salmon was reduced and money to continue hazardous waste cleanup at Hanford was cut.

Excerpt from Sen. Murray’s press release statement:

“Despite the strength of the President’s overall budget proposal, I am very concerned by the proposed funding levels for nuclear waste cleanup at the Hanford site. The cleanup work at Hanford is one of Washington state’s most important environmental priorities, so despite real budget restraints, it is critical for the federal government to provide the necessary resources to meet its obligations and keep cleanup work on schedule.”

Murray, who is on the budget committee, will be discussing the situation further with White House officials.

Furthermore, Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland was expecting more funding for the National Institutes of Health.

“President Obama’s budget outline is a helpful tool to fill in the details of the budget agreed to by the Congress last year,” said Cardin in a statement. “However, I am extremely disappointed in the lack of investment in overall funding for the National Institutes of Health.”

One of the most contentious aspects of Obama's proposed budget was the adoption of the “Buffet Rule,” which would impose a “fair share tax” on the rich over a 10 year period.

That means people like the Koch brothers, who inherited all their wealth, would have to pay more taxes to support the very things they spend billions on ads to demonize and rail against.

Obama sent his budget proposal to Congress on Tuesday, but elections in November could change the entire landscape on Capitol Hill.

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