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Robin Obama [e aumento delle spese militari]

27 febbraio 2009

Se il titolo scelto da La Stampa dà un'idea dell'impostazione scelta da Obama attorno al tentativo di uscire dalla crisi economica, l'aumento delle spese militari del 4 per cento riporta il bilancio della difesa ai livelli voluti da Reagan. Anzi vi è un superamento del picco in termini reali.
Obama dimostra la volontà di concentrarsi sulle sfide (interne) determinate dal periodo di guerra: ristrutturare la forza militare per affrontare la sicurezza, migliorare le compensazioni e i benefici per le truppe e le loro famiglie, avviare un processo di riforma e sviluppo circa l'acquisizione dei sistema d'arma.
La recente nomina del Professore di Harvard Ashton Carter, che ha il compito di gestire centinaia di miliardi di dollari del Pentagono, cambia per un verso l'approccio alle acquisizioni di nuove armi in quanto è un personaggio che non ha legami con i fabbricanti di armi e ha criticato inutili appalti del Pentagono, ma la richiesta per l'esercizio finanziario del 2010 di 533,7 miliardi di dollari (di 513 miliardi per il 2009) sta a significare che la sfida militare rimane un obiettivo strategico.
Il bilancio comprende anche la proposta di un aumento salariale del 2,9 per cento per i militari dell'esercito per "tenere il passo con quelli del settore privato". Non specifica il percorso di carriera nel settore privato. Elenca una serie di proposte per i "pensionati" e veterani, tra cui compensazioni per disabilità, salute mentale, alloggi.

Robin Obama - Tasse ai ricchi sanità ai poveri

"Fra le maggiori novità del bilancio spicca il nuovo approccio alle spese della Difesa: se nel 2009 aumenteranno del 4 per cento e le campagne militari in Iraq ed Afghanistan costeranno 140 miliardi - 75 in più del 2008 - la scelta strategica è a farle scendere nei prossimi dieci anni di 1,49 trilioni. Per la prima volta le guerre in Iraq e Afghanistan saranno contabilizzate nel bilancio federale".

Entriamo nel merito del bilancio:

Obama budget to scrutinize DOD weapons programs

WASHINGTON-- President Barack Obama promised greater scrutiny of Pentagon weapons buying in his 2010 budget released Thursday, following recent runaway costs and missed deadlines on some multibillion-dollar Defense Department weapons contracts.

Obama's $533.7 billion base budget for the Pentagon does not include specifics on how much will be spent on acquisitions or provide details on any of the military's weapons programs, which combined usually comprise a large share of overall defense spending.

But the proposal does say the Pentagon will have to contain cost growth and delays as weapons programs move from planning stages to production by defense contractors. The reforms "will set realistic requirements and stick to them," according to the budget text.

The Pentagon awards billions of dollars in contracts each year for planes, ships, tanks and other warfighting equipment from defense contractors like Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp. The Bush administration's 2009 fiscal year budget set aside $184 billion for defense procurement and weapons research, which rose 15 percent over two years.

Some of the biggest programs have suffered delays and cost growth. That includes the Navy's plan to build new stealth destroyers and the cost of the $337 billion F-35 fighter jet program led by Lockheed, which is about 45 percent higher than its 2001 price tag.

The Government Accountability Office estimated last spring that Advertisement procurement costs were 26 percent over original estimates for 72 weapons programs. Some analysts predict those cost overruns could eventually lead to cuts for some big spending programs.

Earlier this week, Obama singled out the $11.2 billion price tag on a new fleet of Marine helicopters to carry the president, a Lockheed contract with costs nearly double its original estimate. In his speech to Congress Tuesday, Obama also said that changes would ensure "we're not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don't use."

A bill introduced by Sens. Carl Levin, D.-Mich., and John McCain D.-Ariz., would require the Pentagon to conduct more rigorous review of programs during their design stage, appoint a new official to evaluate program costs and do a better job of making sure new technology actually works.

Jim McAleese, a defense industry consultant, said that type of language means there will be a greater Pentagon emphasis on affordability of contracts and buying weapons with technology that is already proven. It also will force defense contractors to be much more diligent in keeping costs under control.

"It means you are going to have to perform," he said of the defense industry.

Industry officials said they agreed with Obama's push for defense reform, but that defense contractors and the Pentagon share responsibility when it comes to containing costs and keeping on schedule.

"The onus really is on all of us," said Cord Sterling, a vice president at the Aerospace Industries Association, which represents most of the nation's largest defense contractors.


Obama 2010 budget highlights by agency

Available details of President Barack Obama's proposed government spending for the 2010 budget year that begins on Oct. 1. A more extensive budget outline is expected in April. In most cases, the figures are for discretionary spending and do not include mandatory entitlement programs like Social Security. The percentage change is based on what Obama wants to spend next year compared with what he anticipates the government will spend in 2009 once Congress completes appropriations for this year.


Health budget aims toward universal coverage

Agency: Health and Human Services

2010 proposal: $821.7 billion ($78.7 billion for discretionary spending, plus $453 billion for Medicare and $290 billion for Medicaid)

Change from 2009 estimate: 7.5 percent increase

Highlights: The government's gargantuan health insurance programs for the elderly and poor would grow more slowly under Obama's proposed health care budget.

Obama wants to squeeze Medicaid and Medicare spending to help create a 10-year, $634 billion fund billed as a "down payment" on his goal of providing health insurance for all. He would use $316 billion in savings from those entitlement programs and predicts other savings by reducing the rate by which wealthier people can cut their taxes through certain deductions.

Obama's budget proposal acknowledges that "additional funding will be needed" for health coverage for all, but doesn't say how
much or where it would come from.

Experts say achieving universal coverage could top $1 trillion over 10 years.

The 2010 budget for Medicare, the health insurance program for people 65 and older, is proposed at $453 billion. That's a 6.5 percent increase from 2009.

Medicaid, which covers certain poor and disabled people, would be funded at $290 billion in 2010, up 12 percent from 2009.

Some of the Medicare savings would come from scaling back payments to private insurance plans that serve older Americans, which many analysts believe to be inflated.

Other proposals include charging upper-income beneficiaries a higher premium for Medicare's prescription drug coverage, and increasing the amount of money drug manufacturers rebate to states for prescription drugs covered under Medicaid.


Environment would get large increase

Agency: Environmental Protection Agency

2010 proposal: $10.5 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 34.6 percent increase

Highlights: Obama's budget signaled that the environment is a priority by providing the biggest increase for the Environmental Protection Agency in eight years.

The proposal nearly triples—to $3.9 billion—funding for states, local governments and tribes. They can use the money to improve sewage treatment plants and drinking water systems and to protect drinking water sources. These programs already received $6 billion in the recently approved stimulus package.

The EPA budget also would provide families, communities and businesses billions to offset the higher energy prices expected if Congress passes legislation to control greenhouse gases.

Starting in 2012, the budget proposes to invest $15 billion a year in clean energy—money generated from auctioning permits to companies that emit the gases blamed for global warming. The rest of the climate cash will be returned to taxpayers.

But it is far from certain that legislation will pass this year.

In another move that could increase energy prices, the EPA budget calls for reinstating taxes on petroleum products, chemical feedstocks and crude oil to pay for cleaning the country's most hazardous waste sites. These taxes expired in 1995. They would start up again in 2011 under Obama's budget.


Big increase sought for poor neighborhoods

Agency: Housing and Urban Development

2010 proposal: $47.5 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 18.5 percent increase

Highlights: Obama proposed spending more to house the poor and invest in poverty-stricken neighborhoods.

In past years, President George Bush proposed cuts for some of the Housing and Urban Development Department's biggest programs, including the Community Development Block Grant. Communities rely on the grants to help lure businesses and to improve neighborhoods.

Obama takes a different approach. He would increase spending from $3.9 billion to $4.5 billion and change the funding formula to give distressed neighborhoods more money.

One of the largest spending increases was recommended for the HOPE for Homeowners program—from $225 million to nearly $1.4 billion next year. The program helps eligible families refinance their mortgages into new 30-year or 40-year loans with lower payments.

Obama would create some new programs within HUD as well. He would provide $1 billion to start a trust fund that will be used to rehabilitate housing for the poorest families. The money would be spent over the next six years. He would also dedicate an unspecified amount to renovate older homes to make them more energy efficient.

The administration would also increase spending on vouchers to subsidize rent for more than 2 million families.

The president recommending eliminating two of the smallest programs within HUD, saving about $16 million.


College tuition aid would increase

Agency: Education

2010 proposal: $46.7 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 12.8 percent increase

Highlights: Obama is calling for a huge expansion of the government's role in making college more affordable and putting it within reach of more kids.

In his budget proposal to Congress, Obama seeks to tie the Pell Grant program to inflation for the first time since it began. The Pell Grant program would grow by more than 150 percent over the next decade.

And in a proposal sure to rile the nation's lenders, Obama seeks to end government-guaranteed loans and to boost the government's own direct lending in an effort to insulate students from turmoil in financial markets.

Such a move would end a long-standing partnership between the government and the private sector—a partnership that has begun to crumble in recent months under the weight of the credit crisis.

Government-subsidized loans currently dwarf the direct loans. The subsidized program provided $56 billion in loans to around 6 million students last year. The government's direct loan program provided $14 billion in loans to 1.5 million students.

Lawmakers have struggled to keep Pell Grants growing, frequently failing to increase the size of the grants even as college costs soared.

Obama proposes to take Pell Grants out of lawmakers' hands, giving the program a mandatory stream of dollars like Social Security and Medicare, and to index Pell Grants to the annual inflation rate.

Pell Grants mostly support students from families earning under $30,000 a year.


Farm payments would be slashed

Agency: Agriculture

2010 proposal: $26 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 8.8 percent increase

Highlights: Big farms that receive large government subsidies would lose some of that money under Obama's budget.

Obama would break from the five-year farm bill that Congress enacted last year, with his support. He proposes eliminating what are known as direct payments—subsidies that are paid to farmers regardless of crop prices or how much they grow—for producers with more than $500,000 in annual sales revenues.

The budget also proposes eliminating other agricultural subsidies, putting a cap on the amount of money an individual farmer can receive. President George Bush made similar proposals to cut payments for the largest corporate farms in many of his annual budgets, but he was rebuffed each year by Congress.

Southern lawmakers in particular oppose cutting farm subsidies because cotton and rice crops there are more expensive to grow. The farm bill, enacted over Bush's veto, raised subsidies for some crops.

Nutrition would get a boost under this budget, with $1 billion more each year to improve child nutrition programs and enhance the nutritional quality of school meals. Obama also would direct more money to loans and grants for renewable fuels production.


Slight increase sought for defense spending

Agency: Defense

2010 proposal: $533.7 billion

Change from 2009: 4 percent increase

War spending (addition to annual budget): $130 billion for 2010, $75.5 billion for 2009

Highlights: Obama wants only a modest increase in defense spending for 2010.

His proposal of at least $533.7 billion is only a 4 percent increase from estimated 2009 spending. Such a sizable sum shows the new administration plans to take a moderately conservative approach to the nation's defense.

But some weapon systems may take big cuts as officials and contractors decide how existing programs fit into that budget after adjustments for inflation.

Obama's request to Congress on Thursday also includes a separate $205.5 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan between now and fall 2010. More than a third of the war money—$75.5 billion—would be spent before October, when the new budget year begins.

Obama's senior defense advisers have warned that extraneous defense spending would be cut but said a detailed plan won't be released until April.

The administration said Thursday that big-ticket programs were risky and vowed to set "realistic requirements" for military priorities.

The administration said it also planned to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps and increase salaries for service members by 2.9 percent. It also will try to improve care for wounded veterans.

While the rhetoric does not bode well for contractors developing pricey weapon systems, the 2010 budget plan still reserves a considerable amount for the military, including some $10 billion a month for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Energy budget promotes 'green' projects

Agency: Energy

2010 proposal: $26.3 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 0.4 percent decrease

Highlights: A dramatic shift away from support for fossil fuels to new "green" energy is at the core of Obama's first proposed budget.

The Energy Department's spending plan would pay for "significant increases in basic research" into developing clean and renewable energy including solar, wind and geothermal sources, and to make motor fuel from plants.

Overall spending for the department would change little from what Congress is providing now, but would be about 5 percent higher than what President George Bush proposed a year ago. Compared to the Bush budget, it proposes a major redirection of spending to reflect Obama's strong support for renewable energy and away from fossil fuels.

While the budget summary provides few specific numbers, it would pump more money into:

— Creating a "smart" electric transmission grid.

— Loan guarantees to bring solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy sources to market.

— Determining commercial viability of capturing carbon from coal-burning power plants.

— Helping low-income families improve the energy efficiency of their homes, a program the Bush administration wanted to eliminate.

While spending on nuclear weapons programs would remain about the same, Obama calls for scrapping a Bush administration program to build a new, more reliable warhead.

Obama would funnel more money to combat global nuclear proliferation, including safeguarding "loose nukes" in Russia.

The budget calls "a new strategy toward nuclear waste disposal" from commercial power plants and would cut spending on the proposed Yucca Mountain waste dump in Nevada.


Sizable expansion sought in veterans spending

Agency: Veterans Affairs

2010 proposal: $52.5 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 10 percent increase

Highlights: Obama proposed a Veterans Affairs budget that takes a step toward expanding health care access to non-disabled veterans whose incomes exceed about $30,000 annually.

Those veterans didn't qualify for VA health care under the Bush administration. By 2013, the administration said 500,000 of the qualifying "Priority 8" veterans would be eligible.

Obama's budget also would provide extra funding for homeless veterans and those in rural areas. It would fund upgrades to the VA's technology system to help eliminate the average six-month wait to have a disability claim processed, and to resources to implement the post-9/11 GI Bill.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee, called the proposed increases encouraging, but expressed concern.

"I believe that we need to move quicker to get our 'Priority 8' veterans within the system, so that's one area I'll be looking at," Murray said.


High-speed trains, rural air service would benefit

Agency: Transportation

2010 proposal: $72.5 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 2.8 percent increase

Highlights: Obama's transportation budget would make a $5 billion installment payment on his campaign promise to build a national network of high-speed passenger trains.

But it sidesteps how to shore up the essentially insolvent highway construction program.

The federal Highway Trust Fund depends in part on gas tax revenue, which is declining. Last fall, Congress transferred $8 billion to the trust fund from the Treasury to make up for a shortfall between money promised to states for highway and bridge projects and money available in the fund. Obama said he wants to work with Congress to find a solution, but his budget outline provided no specifics.

The high-speed rail money would be spread out over five years. That's on top of the $8 billion for high-speed trains in the recently enacted economic stimulus bill.

In Europe and Japan, some trains travel over 180 miles per hour. The only similar train in the United States is Amtrak's Acela, which travels 150 miles per hour in some places between Washington and Boston.

Former President George Bush wasn't a proponent of high-speed rail and proposed eliminating funding for Amtrak.

Also in Obama's transportation proposal:

— $800 million for the Federal Aviation Administration's program modernize the nation's air traffic control system. That's up from about $660 million, but on course for what FAA was expected to spend.

— A $55 million increase in subsidies for commercial air service to rural communities—up about 50 percent over the 2009 budget year that ends Sept. 30. Bush tried to cut the program by more than half.


Increases sought of job safety, training

Agency: Labor

2010 proposal: $13.3 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 4.7 percent increase

Highlights: The Labor Department would get more money to boost enforcement of workplace health, safety and wage laws under Obama's budget.

The increase in worker protection is a major shift after years of cuts to those programs by the Bush administration.

The budget also would increase spending on job training with a focus on "green" jobs and would make extended unemployment benefits available more quickly to those out of work for long periods.

At the same time, the White House projected a savings of about $4 billion over 10 years by cracking down on states that make unauthorized unemployment insurance payments and employers that evade unemployment taxes.

The administration is starting a new program to automatically enroll workers in employer pension plans or other retirement accounts to encourage retirement savings. About 75 million Americans lack employer-based retirement plans outside the Social Security system.

Obama estimated the new plan for automatic workplace pensions would increase the savings participation for low and middle income workers from 15 percent to 80 percent. Employees could opt out of the program if they didn't want to participate.


Obama seeks to fulfill campaign pledge for police

Agency: Justice

Spending: $23.9 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 6.3 percent decrease

Highlights: The Obama administration's first budget sought to keep a campaign promise to put 50,000 more police officers on the streets, as cash-strapped police departments are looking to trim costs.

Through a grant program called COPS, the government pays most of the salaries of new hires in their first years on the job. Democrats and Republicans have sparred for years over the program created during the Clinton administration and slashed during the Bush administration.

Obama's 2010 budget does not say how long it would take to hire the 50,000 new officers. Recent Democratic efforts to hire that many new officers estimated it would take six years.

The agency said it is proposing to spend a total of $26.5 billion, but the budget document only shows $23.9 billion because officials expect to offset $2.5 billion of the spending by collecting civil and criminal fines from corporations and individuals.

The administration's initial budget proposal also pledges more money for federal agents hunting financial fraud, though they do not say how many or if those agents will be pulled from other duties.

The FBI would get nearly one of every four Justice Department dollars.

The Obama administration also proposed spending more on national security, civil rights enforcement, and border and immigration enforcement.

The budget also seeks to keep another, less-noticed Obama campaign promise; it would spend an additional $75 million to help ex-cons adjust to life outside prison, through counseling, job training, and drug treatment.


Slight boost sought for homeland security

Agency: Homeland Security

2010 proposal: $42.7 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 1.2 percent increase

Highlights: Air travelers likely would have to pay more in three years to have their shoes inspected at airports under the Obama administration spending proposal.

Starting in 2012, the airlines would cover most of the costs of passenger and baggage screening through increased fees, according to Obama's 2010 budget. These fees are generally passed on to travelers by the airlines. Airlines have opposed these fees, arguing that airport security is a government responsibility.

Obama's proposal would bolster transportation security, add 2,000 more Border Patrol agents, spend more on cyber security and send money to state and local governments for intelligence analysts. It would also spend $1.4 billion on deporting criminals who are in the country illegally—something Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has called a top immigration enforcement priority.

Obama also would add 15 more of the transportation security teams that are used at high-security events like the Super Bowl. And his budget would pay for another 55 specialized bomb detection officers at the nation's airports.

Obama's homeland security budget would eliminate a maritime navigation system that President George Bush wanted to enhance. And it would cut homeland security spending on sensors to detect biological agents by 75 percent.


More money for windmills, solar panels

Agency: Interior

2010 proposal: $12 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 6.2 percent increase

Highlights: The nation's public lands would produce cleaner energy and brace for global warming's effects on their plants and wildlife under Obama's budget.

The Interior Department plan would invest millions to spur construction of windmills, solar panels and other green-energy projects. It called for increased taxes and fees on oil and gas companies harvesting fossil fuels in the Gulf of Mexico and on other public property.

It would add more than $130 million to help land and wildlife managers monitor and prepare for global warming's toll. And the budget would set up a dedicated fund to address catastrophic wildfires, so agencies don't have to divert money budgeted for other purposes.

Communities would likely see more parks under Obama's budget. It would provide millions to purchase more land and forests and to establish programs that encourage young people to hunt, fish and get outdoors.


More sought to monitor global warming

Agency: NASA

2010 proposal: $18.7 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 5.1 percent increase

Highlights: The Obama administration would continue plans to retire space shuttles in 2010 and use the savings to return astronauts to the moon by 2020.

Obama's budget proposal basically continued the Bush administration plan for space policy, but would shift more resources to monitor global warming.

There had been speculation that Obama would change the space plan because it relies on Russian help for five years to transport Americans into orbit, but he didn't.

Much of the money for a new spaceship comes from retiring the shuttle fleet. Obama would continue that plan but add one more shuttle flight in 2010, something he promised in Florida on the campaign trail.

The story was different it came to NASA efforts focused on Earth instead of space. In 2006, NASA quietly removed the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet" from its mission statement and the agency was accused of ignoring Earth sciences. The first highlight that Obama listed in his NASA budget was about global warming.

The Obama administration promised to beef up satellites to monitor climate change and conduct other scientific research on the issue, though the document provided few specific numbers. Much of the world's climate data is from ground sensors, with gaps over the ocean and in poorer countries.

By using satellites to get vital data from the entire planet, scientists hope to improve their understanding of global warming and its effects and to better predict the future climate.


Big spending increase sought for census

Agency: Commerce

2010 proposal: $13.8 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 48 percent increase

Highlights: Nearly all of the huge spending increase Obama wants for the Commerce Department goes to the massive job of conducting the 2010 census.

The department's discretionary budget would grow from $9.3 billion to $13.8 billion. Roughly $4 billion of the increase would go to the census, which the administration says will require hiring about half a million people. The census also got $1 billion in the recently enacted economic stimulus package.

Funding for the census is a contentious political issue because the count determines government pay-outs to states and cities and the number of congressional seats in each state.

Democrats frequently push for more money to ensure accurate counts for poor and minority communities that have historically been undercounted.

Obama's proposal is about 20 percent higher than the $11.5 billion that the Bush administration had projected for 2010.

Aside from the census, the other big chunk in Commerce's budget is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the government's weather forecasting and conducts climate and ocean research.

Although it provided few details, the budget called for full funding for the agency's climate change research as well as federal efforts to prevent overfishing.


Doubling of foreign aid proposed

Agency: State and other foreign affairs operations

2010 proposal: $51.7 billion

Change from 2009: 9.5 percent increase from now projected 2009 budget, after $10.5 billion in supplemental non-military funding for Afghanistan and Pakistan was added to the initial $36.7 billion 2009 estimate

Highlights: The proposal included money to meet the president's campaign pledge to double foreign aid and boost counter-terrorism and non-military assistance to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

It would expand the number of civilian personnel in Afghanistan and Pakistan to do more development and reconstruction work intended to counter the influence of al-Qaida and the Taliban.

It would redirect U.S. assistance in Iraq to reflect the administration's troop withdrawal plans and funnel more money to support U.N. peacekeeping operations. It would increase funds to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction, secure nuclear material and begin long-term counter-terrorism and law enforcement cooperation in Latin America and elsewhere.

It would also retain President George Bush's hallmark global HIV/AIDS initiative, his plans to hire additional diplomats, and launch new efforts to educate poor children around the world, promote food security and expand Peace Corps operations.



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