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Analysis | Biden budget seeks to flip script on Trump administration’s spending


The White House proposal released Friday now goes to Congress, which ultimately holds the purse strings. Democrats hold narrow majorities in the House and Senate and will likely rely on Republicans to get the budget through, especially as Democrats vie for a massive jobs and infrastructure plan on top of Biden’s recent covid stimulus bill.

But no matter how Congress recalibrates the request, Biden’s initial swing stands in stark contrast to Trump’s spending goals. Trump’s budget proposals were often ignored by Congress, but they did serve as a marker of his priorities. He mostly sought to slash programs that he alleged were examples of bloated government waste. Biden’s budget frames the government in a much different light.

His proposal, for example, includes almost $103 billion for the Department of Education, a massive 41 percent increase over the 2021 enacted level.

The White House proposal would bolster the Title I program, which serves high-poverty schools, doubling funding. It falls short of Biden’s campaign promise to triple funding, but would still easily represent the largest increase in the program’s history and comes on top of a huge infusion of funds to these schools through the rescue act. The plan also targets students’ physical and mental wellbeing by increasing the federal support for counselors, nurses and mental health professionals in schools. And the request would increase funding for special education and related services for students with disabilities, taking a small step toward Biden’s campaign goal of fully funding the long-time unfulfilled federal commitment for special education.

For higher education, Biden’s proposal invests an additional $3 billion in Pell Grants, allowing an increase of $400 to the maximum grant, now set at $6,345. That falls well short of his promise to double Pell Grants. He called for Dreamers, young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, a policy change Congress would need to endorse. The proposal also seeks to boost funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities and other Minority-Serving Institutions.

By comparison, Trump’s budget proposal for 2021 sought to cut education funding by $5.6 billion, or roughly 8 percent. Trump’s final plan while in office sought steep cuts to the student loan program intended to slash popular initiatives like a loan forgiveness program for students who take public service jobs, and subsidized lending for low-income students. In terms of spending increases, Trump’s proposal put a new $5 billion tax credit to reward donors who contribute to private school scholarships.

On healthcare spending, Biden’s proposal would ramp up funding for the Department of Health and Human Services to $131.7 billion, a 23.5 percent increase from the 2021 enacted level.

That would include $8.7 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up $1.6 billion over the 2021 enacted level and the largest budget authority increase for CDC in nearly 20 years. The request also includes $905 million for the Strategic National Stockpile to replenish critical medical supplies and other needs amid the covid pandemic.

Beyond coronavirus, the proposal would put $10.7 billion to combat the opioid crisis, and $670 million to fight the country’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. It also increases appropriations for mental health services and block grants and provides expands suicide prevention activities. The proposal also spans a number of other health-based initiatives, including addressing racial disparities in healthcare, reducing the maternal mortality rate and increasing funding for domestic violence hotlines and medical support.

Trump’s 2021 budget proposal sought to cut HHS discretionary spending by 9 percent. The proposal sought to eliminate Community Development Block Grants,…



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