Washington, DC – Today, the Obama Administration put forward its budget blueprint for fiscal year 2010. Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley lauded the document as a good first step in setting national priorities over the coming year, particularly noting the inclusion of a robust cap-and-trade system to address global climate change.
“Even as our nation confronts our immediate economic challenges, it is critical that we lay the foundation for future opportunity,” said Merkley. “The Obama plan is a great start to a national conversation on how we can put our nation back on track. In particular, we face a major challenge in the form of global climate change and I’m pleased that the Administration is proposing a thoughtful, science-based approach that will meet this challenge and allow America to lead the world in the green energy economy. ”
The Obama budget blueprint proposes setting a cap on carbon emissions and holding public auctions for the permits to emit. The proceeds would be used to extend tax credits for working families and invest in new energy technologies. This mechanism successfully reduced acid rain at lower costs than predicted, and would similarly jump-start market innovations to produce clean energy. Merkley, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has long supported instituting such a system.
The plan also proposes a number of policy changes Merkley has previously advocated:
- Modernizing the electricity grid to enable energy produced in more rural areas to be connected to the nation’s electrical grid;
- Investing in transit and high speed rail;
- Eliminating tax loopholes and subsidies for oil and gas companies;
- Increasing funding for Pell Grants to help low-income students afford a college education;
- Expanding programs, such as HOPE for Homeowners, to help keep families in their homes; and
- Increasing the capacity at nursing schools which are currently turning away qualified candidates. Allowing more individuals to attend nursing schools is a major step in addressing the looming nursing shortage.
The Obama budget is also a stark break from those of the previous Administration in that it takes into account the full costs of all government spending – including “emergency” spending that occurs every year and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – and is projected through the next ten years.
“After eight years of budgets that relied on gimmicks to hide the full costs of domestic programs and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is refreshing that the Obama Administration’s budget is fully transparent,” said Merkley. “I look forward to seeing more details on the specific proposals contained in the blueprint and working with the Administration to help working families and make our nation stronger and more secure.”