Administration Looks Ahead to FY 2012 Budget Release

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Publication date: 
1 February 2011

Yesterday  the White House announced that the Administration will send its FY 2012 budget  request to Congress on Monday, February 14.   The submission is a week later than usual because the confirmation of  the new director of the Office of Management and Budget was delayed.

The  development of the budget request was undoubtedly made more difficult because  Congress has not passed any of the FY 2011 appropriations bills.  Making it even more complicated is the effort  being made by House Republicans to reduce FY 2011 spending to FY 2008 levels.

President  Obama recommended in his State of the Union that non-security spending be  frozen for five years except for defense, homeland security, and veterans’  programs.  Importantly, he advocated that  government spending increase for science and education.

Following  the speech, the White House released a document providing additional detail  about the FY 2012 budget request, selections of which follow:

“In  his State of the Union, President Obama spoke of the need to maintain America’s  leadership in a rapidly changing world so that our economy is competitive –  growing and working for all Americans. To do so, he is putting forward a plan  to help the United States win the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and  out-building our global competition. At the same time, the President  understands the need to reform the way our government does business and take  responsibility for our deficit – by investing in what makes America stronger  and cutting what doesn’t.        “Innovate:  The President is calling for new investments in American innovation. The  President’s Budget will help increase the nation’s R&D investments, as a  share of GDP, to its highest levels since President Kennedy.”

“Educate:  The President understands that to win the future, we have to win the race to  educate our children. Building on the success of Race to the Top, he is calling  on Congress to re-define and right-size the federal role in education, by  replacing No Child Left Behind with a new law that raises expectations,  challenges failure, rewards success, and provides greater flexibility for  schools to innovate and improve results for their students. The President is  also pledging to prepare an additional 100,000 science, technology,  engineering, and math teachers by the end of the decade.”

The  document describes these initiatives as follows:

“A  new commitment to supporting clean energy technology, paid for by ending  taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels: The President’s Budget will propose  increasing clean energy technology funding by a third compared to 2010,  including an expansion of the successful ARPA-E research program and a doubling  of the number of Energy Innovation Hubs operating around the country. These Hubs  will allow America’s scientists and engineers to gather the best minds in their  fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy. The President’s  Budget will also focus on high-value research on clean energy deployment,  including more than doubling investments in energy efficiency and a more than  85 percent increase in renewable energy investment. These investments will  support the ‘$1 a Watt’ initiative to make solar energy cost competitive;  increased funding for 24-hour geothermal renewable energy; and industrial  efficiency to keep U.S. manufacturing competitive. To ensure that we make these  investments without adding to the deficit, the President called for ending the  approximately $4 billion per year in tax subsidies to oil, gas and other fossil  fuel producers.”

“Putting  1 million advanced technology vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015: In 2008, the  President set an ambitious goal of putting 1 million advanced technology  vehicles on the road by 2015 -- which would put us on a path to reducing oil  consumption by 785 million barrels by 2030. . . . President Obama will propose  in his Budget a new effort to support electric vehicle manufacturing and adoption  in the U.S. through improved consumer rebates, investments in R&D, and  competitive programs to encourage communities that invest in electric vehicle  infrastructure.”

“Preparing  100,000 new STEM teachers: President Obama has proposed efforts to prepare  100,000 new teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math -- key  skills for the best jobs in America. The President’s plan will expand promising  and effective teacher preparation models and prepare more of the nation’s top  STEM graduates for a teaching career.”

The  day after the State of the Union, Energy Secretary Steven Chu appeared in a  fifty minute on-line town hall to discuss the President’s clean energy and  innovation agenda.  Chu reiterated Obama’s  call for Americans to respond to a new “Sputnik moment,” saying that “we are no  longer the technology leaders in all sectors.”   Chu said the Administration will seek funding for three new Energy  Innovation Hubs. 

In  other comments, Chu described R&D on new batteries at Argonne National  Laboratory, other research at ARPA-E, and efforts underway at Oak Ridge  National Laboratory to make nuclear power plants more efficient.  In responding to questions on nuclear energy  he said “the waste issue is a solvable issue,” and said the Blue Ribbon  Commission looking at this problem would report its findings this summer.  “I’m a big fan of small modular reactors,” he  later added. 

The  Department of Energy will hold similar town hall meetings with other officials  in coming months.

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