| WASHINGTON, March 4
WASHINGTON, March 4 President Barack Obama will
propose an expansion of popular tax credits for middle class and
working poor Americans on Tuesday in a fiscal 2015 budget
designed to serve as a blueprint for Democrats in this year's
The budget, which would also create automatic retirement
accounts known as IRAs for some 13 million workers, has little
chance of getting enacted.
But it codifies the president's policy priorities ahead of
the November race, in which Democrats hope to keep control of
the U.S. Senate and Republicans hope to expand their majority in
the House of Representatives.
The budget signals a shift away from last year's emphasis on
deficit cutting to a more pronounced focus on poverty reduction,
a legacy-oriented goal the president is highlighting as he faces
less than three years left in office.
Obama will unveil the document during a visit to a local
elementary school at 11:30 a.m. EST (1630 GMT).
His proposal would expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, a
government anti-poverty measure that is meant to encourage
low-income Americans to work. The expansion would cover some
13.5 million people who do not have children.
It would also make the program available to younger workers
who are not currently eligible, the White House said.
The expansion, which would cost $60 billion, would be funded
by closing loopholes such as the tax break for "carried
interest," profits earned by wealthy investors who run private
equity and other funds.
The budget also puts an emphasis on saving for retirement.
It proposes to create automatic Individual Retirement Accounts
(IRA) for those who do not have access to savings plans
sponsored by employers.
"About 13 million workers would begin contributing to
retirement savings through auto-IRAs as a result of this
proposal," the White House said.
The White House signaled last month that its new budget
would not extend the olive branch to Republicans that was
offered in its proposal a year ago.
Officials said the president would drop a suggestion to
change how the government calculates inflation for Social
Security and other federal benefits that could have led to
income drops for older Americans.
The change, which was unpopular with Obama's base, was meant
to show Republicans the president was serious about deficit
reduction. But the White House did not feel Republicans
responded with a similar concession and dropped the idea.
Instead, the 2015 document will include proposals to boost
spending on infrastructure projects, job training, and preschool
education programs - all Democratic priorities.
It expands a tax credit to help parents pay for childcare,
benefiting 1.7 million families, and makes permanent a tax
credit related to paying for college educations.
"The president's budget will show in real terms the choices
we can make to expand economic opportunity and strengthen the
middle class," the White House said.
The budget outlines how some $1.014 trillion will be spent
on government agencies' discretionary programs ranging from the
military to national parks. That level, roughly in line with
this year's cap of $1.012 trillion, was set by a recent budget
deal hammered out by lawmakers.
That figure is less than a third of the approximately $3.5
trillion the government is likely to spend next year. The rest
will be paid out automatically through federal benefits programs
that mostly care for the elderly and poor, including Social
Security, Medicare and Medicaid.