An agency-by-agency guide to Obama’s budget

WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Barack Obama proposed a $3.8 trillion budget on Monday for fiscal 2013 that aims to slash the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years but still envisions growth in the government’s major health benefit programs. Here is the agency-by-agency breakdown:


Agency: Housing and Urban Development

Spending: $44 billion

Percentage Change from 2012: 21.3 percent decrease

Discretionary Spending: $35.3 billion

Highlights: Obama’s proposed budget would provide $2.3 billion for the administration’s goal to end chronic homelessness. HUD’s programs serve primarily the poor, elderly and disabled.

The blueprint also seeks $34.8 billion to preserve rental housing assistance to 4.7 million low-income families and $154 million to expand affordable housing to seniors and persons with disabilities. Obama is also asking for $650 million for housing for Native American tribes.

Obama’s proposal would keep funding for the Community Development Block Grant program at 2012 levels. States and cities use the money to build streets and sidewalks, provide water and build sewers and make other infrastructure improvements in low-income neighborhoods. Local officials struggling to balance budgets support the program.


Agency: NASA

Spending: $17.7 billion

Percentage Change from 2012: 0.3 percent decrease.

Discretionary Spending: $17.7 billion

Highlights: Obama’s proposed space agency budget entails a large shift within NASA for how the same amount of money is essentially spent. The biggest loser is the planet Mars, along with exploring the rest of the planets in our solar system. The president proposed cutting $309 million for studying planets this year, with more cuts in future years. After an already mostly built Mars mission in 2013, future journeys to the red planet are eliminated, put on hold or restructured. While the study of planets would be sliced 21 percent, spending for the overall budget and long delayed James Webb Space Telescope would increase 21 percent. The telescope which may cost $8 billion is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and would peer further into the universe and back in time than ever.

The president wants to double the amount of money spent to help private firms develop their own spaceships that could eventually carry astronauts and others to the International Space Station as taxis. This would replace the now retired space shuttle program and the dependence on Russia for rides into orbit. The president wants to spend $829.7 million to help these companies, but Congress has regularly cut his commercial space proposals. The budget includes the last bit of spending on the retired space shuttles: $71 million.

Much of the spending continues a trend shifting from current space missions to developing the next generation of rockets and capsules for flights out of Earth’s orbit to an asteroid or even to Mars. The president proposes an extra $345 million in spending on developing new rocketry and space technology. That overall proposal includes $1.8 billion for a congressionally mandated large rocket that could carry bigger loads further into space and $1 billion for the Orion crew capsule to take astronauts to new places. A first test flight of the spaceships ? without astronauts ? could be as early as 2017, with astronauts flying in them no earlier than 2021.


Agency: State

Spending: $69 billion

Percentage Change from 2012: 13.8 percent increase

Discretionary Spending: $54.3 billion

Highlights: Obama’s proposed budget for the State Department and U.S. foreign assistance calls for spending $11.8 billion for civilian operations and aid in Iraq ($4.8 billion), Afghanistan ($4.6 billion) and Pakistan ($2.4 billion). It retains major military aid programs to Israel, which will get $3.1 billion; Egypt, which is slated for $1.3 billion, and Jordan, which is to get $300 million.

The spending plan sets aside $770 million for the creation of a new Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund to promote democracy, good governance and free market economies in Arab nations roiled by revolt. It allocates $2.7 billion in economic assistance to support transitions in other parts of the developing world, including the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, Liberia, Haiti and Myanmar.

The proposal maintains billions of dollars in spending on international health projects, including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which will cost $5.4 billion and expects to have treated six million people, many in Africa, by the end of 2013.

On the savings side, the budget pares aid to eastern European and Eurasian countries by 18 percent, cuts back on a planned expansion of State Department personnel and reduces an ambitious overseas construction program that was to build new secure embassies.


Agency: Transportation

Spending: $74.3 billon

Percentage Change from 2012: 39.4 percent decrease

Discretionary Spending: $13.8 billion

Highlights: Obama’s proposed transportation budget includes a six-year, $476-billion surface transportation bill to be paid for by user fees and some of the savings from reducing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s a decrease from the bare bones, six-year, $556 billion surface transportation bill he proposed last year.

A key difference is that last year Obama’s plan ? which was largely ignored by Congress ? didn’t include proposals to pay transportation investments. Also, both last year’s plan and this year’s plan far exceed the spending called for under transportation bills in the House and Senate, where lawmakers have struggled to find money to pay for highway and transit projects. The House bill would spend $260 billion over 4 1/2 years; the Senate $109 billion over less than two years.

Like last year, Obama’s proposal calls for significant funding for high-speed trains ? $47 billion over six years. That’s about $6 billion less than last year’s proposal. But neither the House nor the Senate bills contain any money for high-speed rail. Nor is there any money in the current budget.

Obama’s budget also calls for a $50 billion “upfront” infusion for roads, bridges, transit systems, border crossing railways and runways in the current fiscal year to spur job creation.

The idea of taking war “savings” to pay for other programs is budgetary sleight of hand. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been largely financed through borrowing, so stopping the wars doesn’t create a pool of ready cash, just less debt.


Agency: Veterans Affairs

Spending: $137.4 billion

Percentage Change from 2012: 10.6 percent increase

Discretionary Spending: $61 billion

Highlights: Obama’s budget reflects the growing number of veterans who will need health care through the VA. The budget projects that about 610,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will get health care through VA’s hospitals and clinics this fiscal year. The budget seeks spending increases for virtually all health services provided, including a 5 percent increase for mental health services, which has become a top priority among congressional oversight committees, and a double-digit increase for health programs designed to assist female veterans.

The budget also proposes $1 billion over five years for a Veterans Jobs Corps, a new initiative that would put veterans to work rebuilding roads, trails and other infrastructure on public lands.

The budget seeks a 33 percent increase in spending to combat homelessness among veterans. The administration has set a goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans by 2015. The money would be used to hire coordinators who will help veterans with disability claims, housing problems and other needs. Additional money would be provided to non-profits that help house veterans and their families.

Obama also is seeking more money to deal with the growing number of disability claims that the department is getting from veterans. Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are filing claims that include about 8.5 disabilities per veteran, a rate nearly double that for claims from veterans of previous wars.