- The Washington Times - Monday, February 7, 2005

Note: Spending figures are based on each department’s discretionary budget authority.

AGRICULTURE

Spending: $19.4 billion, down 9.6 percent

President Bush’s budget would shed $587 million from farm price supports, mainly by cutting payments to farmers by 5 percent and reducing the annual ceiling on payments from $360,000 to $250,000. It would also close loopholes allowing big cotton and rice operations to get payments well above the limits, as well as reduce loan availability.

Food stamp spending would grow by $3.5 billion, or 10 percent, to $36 billion, to cover 2.7 million more recipients and food price inflation. Also, school lunch spending would grow $550 million to $12.9 billion, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, would grow by $335 million, to $5.6 billion.

Crop insurance spending would drop by $140 million annually — but not for another year. Minimum coverage levels would rise and direct payments would require producers to buy crop insurance.

The administration would move $300 million from the department’s foreign food aid program to the U.S. Agency for International Development. This would allow USAID to buy food products overseas for foreign aid, rather than from U.S. farmers.

COMMERCE

Spending: $9.4 billion, up 49 percent

The major reason for the gigantic spending increase is the addition of a $3.7 billion economic development program for distressed communities. That program would consolidate 18 federal programs, including a community development block grants program now housed at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would get $3.6 billion, down from $3.9 billion from last year. As part of NOAA’s 2006 budget, $9.5 million is included to improve U.S. tsunami-warning capabilities.

The budget proposes to end the Public Telecommunications Facilities Planning and Construction program, which recently has been used to help public TV stations buy digital transmission equipment. Mr. Bush’s budget suggested that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting should use a portion of its budget for that purpose.

The budget also proposes to eliminate the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Advanced Technology Program, which aims to help the private sector accelerate the development of innovative technologies.

DEFENSE

Spending: $419.3 billion, up 4.5 percent

Increases would allow a 3.1 percent military personnel pay increase and 2.3 percent civilian pay increase. Calls for the reduction of Navy aircraft carriers from 12 to 11 and end production of Air Force F/A-22 stealth fighters earlier than previously planned.

Includes no money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are being paid for with extra, or supplementary, budgets that are expected to total $100 billion this year and a similar amount in 2006.

Funding would add people and money to the special operations forces to support the global war on terrorism and would accelerate the restructuring of the Army while creating more Marine Corps infantry battalions.

EDUCATION

Spending: $56 billion, down 1 percent

Mr. Bush’s proposed budget would significantly streamline federal education programs so $5.5 billion of added spending could continue efforts under the No Child Left Behind Act to make public schools more rigorous at all levels, Education Department officials said yesterday.

The department’s proposed $56-billion budget includes $1.5 billion in new spending to improve literacy of high school students who otherwise might drop out and extend reading and mathematics testing under No Child Left Behind to ninth-, 10th- and 11th-grade students.

The budget asks for $25.5 billion for grants to elementary and middle schools under No Child Left Behind — a rise of $1 billion — and a $508 million increase for special education. New and increased spending would be offset by eliminating 48 programs that no longer are useful or effective, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said.

An administration proposal to reform college student loan programs would increase student aid by $28 billion through 2015. Includes nearly $18 billion on Pell grants to help poor students attend college, an increase of 45 percent. That money would come mainly from deep cuts in subsidies to lenders.

It also would create a $500 million fund to reward teachers whose students make great progress, and cut at least $355 million from programs for safe and drug-free schools.

ENERGY

Spending: $23.4 billion, down 2 percent

Funding for nuclear waste disposal would increase by $79 million, to $651 million. But spending drops for cleaning up large amounts of radioactive contamination and hazardous waste at 114 sites in 31 states and one U.S. territory by $779 million, to $6.5 billion.

Mr. Bush would spend $651 million toward completing the license application process and constructing a national repository for nuclear waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. He wants to spend $56 million to build what would be the first new nuclear power plant in the United States in three decades. Spending to secure nuclear material in Russia and newly independent states of the former Soviet Union would be $246 million.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Spending: $67.2 billion, down 1.2 percent

Existing law sets spending for Medicare at $340 billion, a 17 percent increase over last year, mostly for the prescription drug benefit that takes effect this year. Mr. Bush proposes no significant increases over that amount.

Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which provides health care to poor adults and children, is set by law to increase 2.2 percent to about $198 billion. The president has proposed no significant increase over that amount.

Abstinence education funding is increased by $39 million, bringing total spending on these activities to $206 million.

Others targeted for cuts are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Administration for Children and Families, the Administration on Aging and the office of HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt.

HOMELAND SECURITY

Spending: $34.2 billion, up 6.8 percent

The proposal calls for a 10 percent spending increase to $16 billion for border and transportation agencies, including $37 million for 210 new Border Patrol agents.

The plan also would create a nuclear detection office to monitor and report attempts to import, assemble or transport unsanctioned nuclear or radiological materials. It would double spending, to $262 million, on developing detection devices for Customs and Border Protection agents, but cut state and local coordination efforts by $420 million, or 11 percent.

Homeland Security is one of the few agencies that would not suffer an overall spending cut in 2006. The new spending largely comes from more than $4.8 billion in fees — 60 percent more than is expected in the current fiscal year. To do this, the White House proposes increasing airline passenger fees by $3 in 2006, raising the cost from $2.50 to $5.50 for each leg of a round-trip ticket.

HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

Spending: $28.5 billion, down 11.5 percent

Mr. Bush calls for the elimination of community development block grant programs, funded at $4.7 billion in 2005. That is part of an administration proposal to consolidate 18 community development programs from various agencies into a new $3.7 billion economic development program for distressed communities to be overseen by the Commerce Department.

Increase by 7 percent funding for a Section 8 voucher program that helps low-income families pay rent, to $15.8 billion. The proposal would restore cuts in the current budget and account for inflation.

Mr. Bush said he intends to send Congress a separate proposal later this year to give local housing authorities more flexibility to run their programs. He also proposes a 14 percent increase, to $5.7 billion, in spending on improvements and upkeep of public housing.

The budget proposes elimination of the HOPE VI program, and asks Congress to rescind the $143 million it had approved in the 2005 budget. Congress has rebuffed similar requests in the past to eliminate the program, which helps housing agencies replace dilapidated public housing units with mostly larger town houses and detached homes to create mixed-income communities. The president says a construction backlog in unfinished projects from previous years eliminates the need for new spending.

INTERIOR

Spending: $10.6 billion, down 1.1 percent

The president’s proposal would add 2 percent to spending by the Bureau of Land Management, which handles permits for oil and gas drilling. That would increase the agency’s budget to nearly $1.74 billion.

Funding for the National Park Service would dip nearly 3 percent, reducing it to about $2.25 billion.

Mr. Bush said his top priority for the department is promoting energy development to reduce imports. He proposes to cut spending by the Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Indian Affairs. But the Office of the Special Trustee, which is sorting out the huge class-action lawsuit brought by American Indians to reclaim lost royalties, would see its budget increase 33 percent, to $304 million.

He has proposed a 2.4 percent increase in spending for the Fish and Wildlife Service, to $1.32 billion.

JUSTICE

Spending: $20.3 billion, up 1 percent

The FBI budget would increase by 11 percent, to $5.7 billion, including an increase of $294 million for counterterrorism and counterintelligence activities and $117 million for the intelligence program. Much of the proposed spending increase reflects the agency’s top two priorities of combating terrorism and foreign espionage.

The Drug Enforcement Administration would see a 4 percent increase, to $1.7 billion, with a focus on disrupting three dozen major drug organizations, while the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), which provides grants for state and local agencies to hire police officers, would be cut from $499 million to $22 million.

The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, $297 million last year, would be eliminated.

Congress has resisted similar proposals by the president in previous years.

LABOR

Spending: $11.5 billion, down 4.4 percent

Funding to the Bureau of International Labor Affairs would be decreased to $12 million, down from $93 million in Mr. Bush’s 2005 budget proposal. The bureau conducts research on and helps formulate international economic, trade, immigration and labor policies.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy would see its funding reduced from $47 million to $28 million. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) funding would rise slightly to $467 million, up from $464 million in 2005. Some of the money would be used to improve OSHA’s ability to get timely data on worker injuries and illnesses.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration also would see a small increase, to $280 million from $279 million. The 2006 budget also includes $7 million to fight fraud and corruption in labor unions. Money would be used to beef up audits, help hire 48 new auditors, and investigate and combat embezzlement of union funds.

Mr. Bush has asked for $5.16 billion for the department’s Employment and Training Administration, down from $5.34 billion this year. Programs to retrain and find new jobs for fired workers and the youth-oriented Job Corps would be cut. The president asks Congress to shift $136 million in the training budget to fund a new program in community colleges, as well as $75 million to go toward helping recently released prisoners make a successful transition back to society and to employment.

STATE

Spending: $32.7 billion, up 15.6 percent

The State Department and U.S. foreign aid programs were rare winners in the new budget, with spending on all foreign accounts rising to $33.6 billion from $29.7 billion in fiscal 2005. Foreign aid accounts, funding everything from disease control to debt relief, jumped from $19.7 billion to $22.8 billion, and no programs were targeted for elimination.

The figures do not include the $18 billion reconstruction fund approved for Iraq or spending for victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, which will be covered in a supplemental spending bill.

The budget seeks $5.8 billion in aid to key U.S. allies in the global war on terror; $3.2 billion for HIV/AIDS programs; $1.5 billion for upgrading security and the construction of new embassies and diplomatic buildings; $1 billion for Afghanistan; and a similar amount for Iraq.

The increase in an otherwise tight budget season reflected “President Bush’s bold foreign policy agenda to push liberty and freedom to the four corners of the world,” a senior State Department official said yesterday.

The budget asks for $3 billion for the president’s new Millennium Challenge Account, targeting economic aid to reforming states around the world. That is up from $1.5 billion in fiscal 2005, but short of Mr. Bush’s original target of $5 billion for the 2006 budget.

TRANSPORTATION

Spending: $57.5 billion, down 1 percent

The Bush proposal eliminates Amtrak’s operating subsidy and sets aside $360 million to run trains along the Northeast Corridor if the railroad ceases operating; the agency received $1.2 billion this year in operating subsidy and capital investment.

Mr. Bush has consistently proposed cutting Amtrak funding, and Congress just as consistently has given the passenger railroad close to what it says it needs to keep running.

The budget would also cut airport spending for relieving congestion and improving safety by 13.6 percent, or $472 million, from $3.5 billion. Calls for an increase in spending for a new Transportation Department headquarters building by 49 percent, to $100 million from $67 million.

The Bush plan would put highway spending on autopilot, with a 1 percent increase in federal highway aid this year. More spending on popular road construction projects would require passage of the highway bill, which is more than a year overdue because of an impasse between Congress and the administration over spending levels.

As air traffic continues to increase, cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) budget are especially worrisome to the aviation industry. Mr. Bush is proposing to hire about 600 new air traffic controllers, and to allow the FAA to replace the estimated 650 controllers who will retire or leave the agency in 2006.

TREASURY

Spending: $11.6 billion, up 3.9 percent

The biggest chunk of the department’s budget, $10.7 billion, would go to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). That’s up from $10.2 billion in Mr. Bush’s 2005 budget proposal. Approximately $265 million would pay for additional IRS audits, collection efforts and tax-fraud enforcement.

An estimated $56 million would help ease tax filing by providing more forms that can be filed electronically. More than $100 million would go toward detecting and stopping financial crimes, money laundering and terrorist financing.

The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund would be cut to $8 million, from $56 million in Mr. Bush’s 2005 budget. The fund aims to expand the availability of credit, investment capital and financial services in distressed urban and rural communities.

VETERANS AFFAIRS

Spending: $33.4 billion, up 2.7 percent

The president’s plan would raise medical care spending from $21.6 billion to $22.4 billion, as well as upping funding by $240 million on inpatient care for veterans with problems related to mental illness, including alcohol and drug use.

After four years of increases in the agency’s budget, Mr. Bush wants veterans to start picking up more of the tab. He asks veterans who have the highest incomes among those seeking VA health care and who do not have service-connected illnesses or injuries to pay a $250 annual fee. Mr. Bush also wants to increase prescription drug co-payments for such veterans from $7 to $15 for a 30-day drug supply. More than 2 million veterans could be affected.

The fees make up much of the increase in medical care spending.

Mr. Bush has made similar requests in previous budgets, only to be soundly rejected by members of Congress. But the environment is different this year with new House and Senate veterans affairs committee chairmen, at least one of whom has been supportive of the president’s efforts to focus resources on certain veterans.

EPA

Spending: $7.6 billion, down 5.6 percent

According to the Bush proposal, low-interest loans to states for water quality protection projects would drop by a third, to $730 million. That would mean less money to treat wastewater, reduce pollution from nonspecific sources and manage watersheds and estuaries.

Other funding to improve the nation’s aging infrastructure for water systems would be cut by 83 percent, to $69 million. The president proposed more money for the program that cleans up a third of the nation’s Superfund toxic waste cleanup sites, those for which the agency has been unable to pin the costs on a polluter. Superfund would grow by 2.5 percent, to nearly $1.28 billion.

He also would add 36 percent to programs for redeveloping lesser contaminated sites known as “brownfields,” bringing that budget to $121 million, and would spend $50 million for improving the health of the Great Lakes, more than double the amount proposed for this year.

NASA

Spending: $16.5 billion, down 5.6 percent

Only $93 million in the space agency’s $16.5 billion budget would go toward fixing the Hubble Telescope: $75 million to develop a kamikaze robot that would steer the orbiting observatory into the ocean at the end of its lifetime, and $18 million to try to eke out as much scientific observing time as possible from the telescope through clever remote controlling.

The proposed budget for NASA sets aside $9.6 billion for science, aeronautics and exploration, and $6.7 billion for exploration capabilities. That includes $4.5 billion for the space shuttle program, on track for resuming flights this year for the first time since the 2003 Columbia disaster, and $1.85 billion for the International Space Station.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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