President Barack Obama’s $4.1 trillion budget for fiscal year 2017 did not find a welcome reception from Texas Republicans, who denounced a proposed $10-a-barrel tax on oil that would fund clean-energy transportation projects.
The defense budget includes funding for Fort Worth-based Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Corp.’s F-35 but stretches out the purchase of the Air Force version of the stealth aircraft, for 43 planes this year instead of the planned 48. However, the Pentagon added two more F-35s for the Marine Corps.
“The budget that we’re releasing today reflects my priorities and the priorities that I believe will help advance security and prosperity in America for many years to come,” Obama said Tuesday of his last budget as president.
He emphasized the budget’s proposed $19 billion in spending on cybersecurity, a more than 30 percent increase in spending to fight cyberthreats.
“More and more, keeping America safe is not just a matter of more tanks, more aircraft carriers; not just a matter of bolstering our security on the ground. It also requires us to bolster our security online,” he said.
North Texas Republican lawmakers dismissed the budget outright.
“The president's aggressively liberal, go-for-broke budget strategy will leave America exactly that – broke,” U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, a Dallas Republican, said in a statement.
“Fortunately,” he added, “thanks to House and Senate Republicans, this budget is also dead on arrival.”
That much is true; Obama’s budget has practically no chance of being enacted by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Senate.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth took a much different view of the budget.
25 The amount, in cents, that Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said consumers would pay per gallon if Obama’s proposed oil tax passes
“The president’s FY2017 budget reflects a bold commitment to America’s future,” Veasey said in a statement to McClatchy. “For families in the DFW Metroplex, increased investments in education will strengthen Pell Grants for motivated students, expand early childhood education and invest in job training and apprenticeships to help all workers get the skills they need to meet the needs of the evolving job market.”
Republican Sen. John Cornyn reflected opposition to the budget.
“Rather than something that sends a signal that (Obama) wants to work with Congress, it basically is more of the same: a $4 trillion budget that is unserious, partisan and contains reckless spending,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor. He was particularly incensed at the proposed oil tax.
“What that would do is translate into 25 cents a gallon more for consumers at the pump,” Cornyn said. “How in the world would that help?”
The American Petroleum Institute’s president and CEO, Jack Gerard, echoed that prediction and called Obama’s proposed fee a “head-in-the-sand moment.”
“This is what ‘leave-it-in-the-ground’ ideology really means: harm to consumers, diminished American competitiveness, weakened energy security and a return to energy dependence,” he said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, an Ennis Republican, said in a statement, “I am in total disbelief that the president and his advisers would even entertain this proposal. This 30 percent tax on oil will not clean our air, it will not create a new transportation infrastructure, but it will hit the checkbooks of hardworking American families and it will hurt our economy in countless ways.”
In three decades of working in energy policy, I cannot remember a more outlandish or impractical proposal. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas
Defense spending is less controversial since it is part of last year’s budget agreement.
“The proposed defense budget for 2017 funds combat systems built in Texas such as the F-35 fighter and V-22 rotorcraft, but it shortchanges investment in military technology,” Loren Thompson, a defense expert and consultant at the Lexington Institute, a nonpartisan research center, said in an interview. “The F-35 fighter in particular was supposed to be bought at a much higher rate than is funded in this budget, and as a result each plane costs taxpayers millions of dollars more than it needs to.”
The Air Force is deferring five F-35s, requesting just 43 in its fiscal year 2017 budget submission. The delayed F-35 ramp to the planned acquisition of 1,763 aircraft was part of last year’s budget negotiations.
The president’s budget includes $10.1 billion in 2017 for F-35s across the force: 43 F-35A’s for the Air Force, 16 F-35B’s for the Marine Corps and 4 F-35C’s for the Navy.
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, an Austin Republican who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement, “The president’s budget request does not reflect the fact that we face the highest terror threat level since 9/11. While the budget calls for a number of necessary security enhancements, it still falls short where we need it most . . . the president’s overall budget still proposes spending billions more on countering climate change than on countering violent extremism here at home.”
On NASA funding, Republican U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith of San Antonio, chairman of the House Science Committee, said in a statement, “This administration cannot continue to tout plans to send astronauts to Mars while strangling the programs that will take us there. President Obama’s FY17 budget proposal shrinks our deep space exploration programs by more than $800 million.”
Smith complained that the administration proposes cutting aspects of the space budget while boosting Earth sciences research to over $2 billion – part of Obama’s climate change game plan.