New proposal includes spending above sequestration caps for defense and non-defense, and many initiatives that would be widely popular with Americans.
By: Jasmine Tucker and Lindsay Koshgarian
Today President Obama released his seventh budget proposal, requesting $4 trillion in fiscal year 2016. His proposal calls for $74 billion in additional discretionary spending above the sequestration caps set in place for the upcoming year. The additional spending would be about evenly split between defense and non-defense discretionary programs.
This budget request is President Obama’s first on-time budget proposal since 2011. Here are highlights of what the new budget proposal contains:
Total Spending and the Budget Control Act
In his budget proposal for 2016, President Obama proposed $4 trillion in total spending, including more than $1.15 trillion in discretionary spending, an increase of about 2 percent relative to 2015 enacted levels. President Obama proposes spending levels for 2016 that exceed sequestration’s spending caps by $74 billion. Spending increases are about equally split between defense and non-defense program. Defense programs – including the Department of Defense, nuclear weapons, and related activities would receive $38 billion over fiscal 2016’s sequestration cap on defense programs while non-defense programs would receive an additional $37 billion above the sequestration cap. 
The president proposes $60 billion over 10 years for a new initiative that would allow students to attend community college for up to two years tuition free and would again provide expanded Head Start and universal pre-kindergarten.
The budget also includes $478 billion in additional infrastructure spending over the next six years, which would pay for surface transportation improvements such as roads and bridges. The president proposes to pay for this through various tax reforms.
Notably, the plan includes $585 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Defense, including a base budget of $534 billion, and war funding of $51 billion. This does not include separate programs through the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons, or other military spending. This would represent a significant increase over the analogous enacted 2015 spending level of $554 billion.
Military and War
The president’s budget proposal would spend $612 billion on national defense discretionary programs, including funding for the Pentagon, war, nuclear weapons, and other related expenses, a level higher than any under President Reagan. This represents a 4.5 percent increase over the 2015 enacted level and exceeds spending caps set by the Budget Control Act by $38 billion.
The proposal includes $534 billion for the Department of Defense base budget, a figure that does not include war costs or nuclear weapons activities within the Department of Energy. That represents a more than $38 billion increase – a more than 7 percent increase – relative to 2015 enacted spending levels and would be the highest Department of Defense base budget in history. The budget funds the development of 19 more F-35 fighter jets than were produced in 2015, despite the fact that the planes are billions over budget and years behind schedule.
The president also calls for nearly $51 billion in a separate account called the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) for war activities, which would add to the more than $1.6 trillion the U.S. has already spent on war since 2001. The OCO budget includes $5.3 billion for continued operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Since OCO is not subject to funding caps or sequestration cuts, billions of dollars in the war budget have been widely referred to as a “slush fund.”