President Obama's budget released today ends billions of dollars in giveaways to the biggest oil companies and increases research into cancer and other diseases, but still makes cuts to key programs needed to help our nation's poorest like low-income fuel assistance, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said today. Rep. Markey has pushed for increased funding for the National Institute of Health and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and has introduced legislation to repeal the Big Oil's tax breaks and other subsidies.
"This Valentine's Day budget ends the decades of sweetheart deals given to the biggest oil companies and puts our nation on a long-term path towards financial stability," said. Rep. Markey. "While House Republicans are choosing Big Oil over Big Bird, the president is making innovation and education the cornerstones of America's economic recovery."
Rep. Markey, who is the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and a senior member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following reaction to several key provisions of the President's budget:
Oil programs (LIHEAP, drilling safety, repealing oil tax subsidies):
President Obama's budget would finally end more than $43 billion in tax subsidies given to oil companies, following legislation introduced by Rep. Markey and others. The budget also includes an increase of more than $150 million to make offshore drilling safer and make sure the American taxpayer gets a fair return on oil drilling. And the budget includes a proposal similar to one authored by Rep. Markey that would ensure that oil companies "use-it or lose-it" on the more than 60 million acres of nonproducing leases oil companies hold.
President Obama's budget unfortunately still includes steep cuts to the low-income fuel assistance program LIHEAP, cutting it by half. With energy prices projected to remain high, this reduction would mean more than 3 million families would go without help to stay warm.
"The president recognizes that we don't need to provide 100 year-old tax breaks to oil companies so they can sell $100 per barrel oil and make more than $100 billion per year," said Rep. Markey. "We should be helping our nation's poorest citizens by fully funding low-income heating assistance programs, not shareholder assistance programs for oil company executives. I intend to submit an amendment that will ensure LIHEAP remains fully funded."
Community Service Block Grants:
The president's budget cuts by 50 percent the federal government's only comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of vulnerable citizens and helping struggling Americans get the services they need to achieve economic security.
"These programs aren't just lines in a budget -- they're lifelines for our most vulnerable, and they must be preserved," said Rep. Markey. "The poor, the disabled, the elderly, and children all depend on community action programs. We must not balance the budget on the backs of disadvantaged citizens in our communities, and I will fight to protect these critical programs."
Land and Water Conservation Fund:
While the House Republican's funding bill proposes a 90 percent cut to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), President Obama is requesting the full amount authorized, $900 million. Both of these funding levels are historic. Funding for these vital conservation programs has only reached the level proposed by President Obama five times during the nearly 50-year history of the program. Over that same period, funding for LWCF has never been as low as the CR proposes.
"Since its inception in 1965,the Land and Water Conservation Fund has stood as a commitment to the American people that, as we allow huge oil companies like BP to deplete our ocean energy resources, we will take a tiny sliver of their massive profits and deposit it into a trust fund for conservation. The House Republican Majority spending plan breaks faith with the American people by borrowing more from the fund than ever before; enough to cripple the program. This is not a return to FY 2008; it's a return to FY LBJ. In direct contrast, the President's request honors this commitment, stops the borrowing and provides critical conservation money for state and federal public lands," said Rep. Markey.
National Institute of Health:
President Obama's budget increases by $1 billion the budget of the National Institute of Health (NIH). This additional funding will help speed up the process of translating scientific discoveries into medications, devices, and therapies that will help better the lives of millions of Americans suffering from cancer, Alzheimer's and countless other diseases.
"As our nation's preeminent medical research institution, the National Institute of Health is our country's National Institute of Hope," said Rep. Markey. "NIH research is a critical part of strengthening our economy, inspiring the next generation of scientists and maintaining our nation's leadership in innovation. President Obama's increased funding for NIH will support advances in biomedical research and innovation that will improve the lives of millions of Americans, generate countless new jobs, and represents a key pillar of our economy recovery."
Corporation for Public Broadcasting:
Despite draconian cuts in the Republican spending bill that would zero out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), President Obama's budget protects current funding levels and ensures that American households will continue receiving high-quality educational programming for youth.
"The President's budget wisely increases funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps to support the production of high quality, informative and educational programming produced by locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations reaching virtually every household in our country. In a media landscape cluttered with lowest-common denominator content, CPB creates an oasis where Big Bird and friends can thrive, children can access educational shows that reinforce classroom lessons and Americans around the country can find the top-caliber programming that expands their knowledge while entertaining and informing their everyday lives."
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
The President's Budget will also reorganize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish a Climate Service. This budget neutral reorganization will create a Climate Service to identify, produce, and deliver authoritative and timely information to help all Americans adapt to and prepare for climate change.
"After the hottest year on record and killer weather events here at home and around the globe, it's clear that businesses and every level of government need help planning for the future in our changing climate," Rep. Markey said. "When it comes to climate, the past in no longer prologue. President Obama is finishing work started under President Bush to provide the science-based climate information that our nation needs. We rely on NOAA's Weather Service to plan our activities for the weekend. We will soon be able to rely on NOAA's Climate Service to plan our activities for decades."