Let’s face it, budgets aren’t always the most exciting things to cover. But if you think about federal budget proposals like your high school days it may be a bit more fun to think about, depending on your experience.
Budgets are about winners and losers and though it is far from being enacted into law, president Obama’s 2012 proposed budget clearly shows who gets to sit at the cool kids’ table at a lunch.
Losers get barraged with budget cuts. Winners get their budgets increased. Clearly some of those who have been on the loser list remain. Loser #1: fossil-fuel subsidies. This time around the president proposed $3.6 billion in cuts to government subsidies for fossil fuel production. The savings by cutting this taxpayer-funded pipeline to the industry would save $46.2 billion over a decade. Also sitting at the outcast table are a few programs that Obama has simply eliminated. The Fuels Program, the Oil and Gas Research and Development Program and the Unconventional Fossil Energy Resource Program are all being unfriended by the administration.
But if you really want to talk losers, let’s talk EPA. President Obama, didn’t go as far as Republicans did last week, but he does want to cut the EPA’s funding by a proposed $1.3 billion. And this is the good news for the agency, which may not be filling the vacant position left by Carrol Browner’s departure. On the other end of the spectrum is the Republican proposal that calls for the agency to lose $3 billion dollars and be forbidden from pretty much saying the words “climate change.” Ouch. If this were high school, the EPA would be getting picked on by the jocks while also being ignored by the band nerds.
But then there’s the “in-crowd.” In high school these are the athletes, the ones smoking cigarettes before class and blaring Foreigner out of their topless IROC after school. In terms of President Obama’s budget proposal the cool kids are, well, less exciting. Take the Department of Energy, which the administration wants to bolster to having an operating budget of about $29.5 billion. Within the department, all of these have had their budgets increased: research of rare earth materials, battery storage research, and smart grid transmission research. These are President Obama’s cool kids. These are the big names at the prom.
And let’s not forget about the nuclear industry. They have caught the eye of Obama. The president has glowing thoughts about the energy source in his allocation of about $36 billion for loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants.
Compare these nuclear numbers to the dollar figure for renewable loans and you will see the nuclear numbers are about 36 times higher. Like I said, it’s all about winners and losers.