US Budget constraints limit Barack Obama's second-term agenda
Obama frequently invokes the spending caps to rebut Republican charges that he does not care about reducing trillion-dollar deficits. He proposed another $100 billion in non-military discretionary cuts during his fiscal-cliff talks last month with Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner.
But he also warns that deep program cuts will undermine future competitiveness. "The cuts we've already made ... mean that we spend less as a share of our economy than has been true for a generation," he said at a news conference on Monday. "And that's not a recipe for growth."
The White House says it will be able to work within the spending caps to prioritize the areas it cares about most.
But experts with experience in federal allocations say it will be exceedingly difficult to carve out room from other budget areas.
MORE PRISONS, MORE TAX EXAMINERS
The Census Bureau predicts the U.S. population will grow by 12.5 million over the coming four years. That will place increased demands on the government, requiring many agencies to boost staffing to avoid a performance downgrade, Lilly said.
The FBI, for example, will need more crime fighters, and the IRS will need more tax examiners. Increased highway traffic will degrade roads more quickly, and increased air traffic will require more air traffic controllers.
The Bureau of Prisons will face greater costs as it expects the federal inmate population to rise 8 percent in the next four years, while the Veterans Administration will see mounting health-care costs with an aging veterans population.
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