It’s February, so the President’s budget was due to Congress on or before the first Monday of this month. President Obama missed the deadline, but is set to submit it in early March. According to White House officials, the President will ask Congress for about $56 billion for education and job training, but will cut back on defense and domestic spending, while raising taxes on top earners. Likewise, the President would like to make the Earned Income Tax Credit more widely available by eliminating tax benefits elsewhere. Additionally, it does not scale back on the increases to Social Security benefits as last year’s proposal did. Although the budget did not include the cost-of-living adjustment cuts, the President’s staff has said that he would consider it as part of a larger deal to promote fiscal stability for the country. According to the White House, this budget would reduce the Federal deficit to less than 2 percent the GDP over the course of a decade. Democrats have praised the President’s plans, while Republicans have thus far rejected it.
If the Republicans and Democrats are divided over the President’s budget, perhaps they could unite by providing a tax break to a certain group of Americans: U.S. Olympic medalists. Medalists receive cash prizes from the U.S. Olympic Committee, and since the IRS considers this income earned abroad, the awards are subject to a tax, which could be nearly 40 percent for those in the top bracket. In a show of patriotic spirit, Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota has introduced a bill exempting Olympians from paying taxes on their winnings. Republican Senators Johnny Isakson, Marco Rubio, Mark Kirk, Tim Scott, Roger Wicker, and John Hoeven, and Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand teamed up to co-sponsor the bill. Republican Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas introduced a similar bill in the House.
Star actor Ben Affleck has a new leading role this month…on Capitol Hill. He is expected to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week to highlight the violence plaguing the Democratic Republic of Congo. Star testimony is not unheard of on the Hill, but it is not surprising if it raises eyebrows, because it is reasonable to assume—probably correctly—that they are not experts on the topic, or at least that there are others who are more knowledgeable. Affleck has testified on the topic before and has also founded the Eastern Congo Initiative, an organization that works to secure funding for the country and raise “awareness about the tremendous need in the region through highly targeted media and advocacy activities”.
And for our latest post: Are Most Members of Congress Really Millionaires?