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Obama Budget: A Blueprint With Little Chance Of Passage

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President Obama has released his latest budget plan. It's a mandatory annual document but it's not likely to gain much political traction and, compared to the president's past spending plans, this budget expresses relatively small ambitions.

Here's NPR Tamara Keith.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: As far as budget rollouts go, this was a pretty low key affair.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: Good morning, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Hello, everybody. How's it going guys?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: Good.

KEITH: President Obama traveled across town to Powell Elementary School where he visited a pre-K classroom. The four and five year olds were learning how to write sentences.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: Read to the baby.

KEITH: And the president said he was there to make a point.

OBAMA: The budget is not just about numbers. It's about our values and it's about our future, and how well we are laying the groundwork for those young children that I was with just a few moments ago.

KEITH: His budget would boost funding for early childhood education and aims to make college more affordable, too. In short, it's a giant wish list. It would invest in infrastructure, create more hi-tech manufacturing hubs, and greatly expand the earned income and child tax credits.

OBAMA: This budget gives millions more workers the opportunity to take advantage of the tax credit. And it pays for it by closing loopholes like the ones that let wealthy individuals classify themselves as a small business to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

KEITH: The $3.9 trillion budget sticks to the spending levels agreed to last year by House and Senate budget negotiators. What is more notable is what it doesn't do. It doesn't aspire to a grand bargain with Congress or call for significant changes to programs like Medicare or Social Security. Instead, it delivers a message Democrats and the president have tried to convey countless ways in recent years.

OBAMA: It's about our values. As a country, we've got to make a decision if we're going to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, or if we're going to make smart investments necessary to create jobs and grow our economy, and expand opportunity for every American.

KEITH: There is a not so subtle implication that Republicans have chosen the interests of the wealthiest Americans. And let's just say this budget isn't getting rave reviews from Republicans in Congress.

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: Folks just aren't taking it seriously because it's not a very serious document.

KEITH: Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor this budget is a missed opportunity.

MCCONNELL: The president has once again opted for the political stunt for a budget. And it's more about firing up the base and in an election year, than about solving the nation's biggest and most persistent long-term challenges.

KEITH: It should come as no surprise then that this budget is dead on arrival in Congress. And that's not really a problem, because Congress has already settled on how much to spend in the coming year.

Tamara Keith, NPR News, the White House.

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