Las Vegas Sun

September 23, 2014

Currently: 74° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

11 ways Obama’s 2013 budget could affect Nevadans

Image

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Patricia Gillaird of the Government Printing Office delivers copies of President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2013 federal budget on Feb. 13, 2012, to the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.

President Barack Obama unveiled a budget proposal Monday for fiscal 2013 that puts in black and white what we’ve been hearing from him for months: invest in America, and help pay for the investment — and reduce the debt — by making the rich “contribute their fair share.”

But Obama’s budget may have more traction on the campaign trail than in Congress. Time and time again over the past year, lawmakers have fought over investment proposals small and large, and Republicans have stopped Democrats from passing millionaires’ taxes and other tax-rate-balancing proposals. In turn, Democrats have put their foot down on Republicans’ proposals to tackle the country’s mounting debt by upending Medicare.

Nonetheless, many items in the 256-page budget could affect Nevadans. Here are 11, in no particular order, that could hit home — if they can pass Congress, of course.

    • This solar field is part of the Nevada Solar One 64-megawatt solar thermal power plant in Boulder City's Eldorado Valley Energy Zone.

      Energy

      Remember when every other month, Sen. Harry Reid was announcing a new loan guarantee to kick-start some massive renewable energy project in Nevada? Well, consider the start kicked. The stimulus programs that helped pay for Nevada’s solar growth were phased out at the end of fiscal 2011, and the president is not going to resurrect them. Instead, the administration is putting new resources into research and development, to push energy efficiency and affordability. But R&D isn’t really the Silver State’s strong suit — meaning for the short term at least, the so-called Saudi Arabia of solar energy will have to stand on its own.

    • Nuclear un-dumps

      As expected, the president’s budget upholds the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future — which Yucca Mountain opponents welcomed as a sign that Washington, D.C., is looking at dumping nuclear waste in places other than Nevada.

      Meanwhile, the budget puts $5.65 billion toward making sure “our nation’s legacy of nuclear wastes from the production of weapons during the Cold War are processed, secured, and safely disposed of in a timely manner.” The cleanup list includes Washington, South Carolina, Idaho, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and New Mexico, but not Nevada. The government may not have produced nuclear weapons in Nevada, but they certainly detonated them there. Yet the Nevada National Security Site, it seems, will have to wait for a cleanup.

    • Not far from the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, two mining companies are seeking approval from the Bureau of Land Management to start a 640-acre rock-excavation operation, agitating Henderson residents concerned about dust and noise.

      Public lands

      The president announced on his swing through the West last month that he plans to make public land available for private investment in clean energy — welcome news in a state where over two-thirds of all land is controlled by the Bureau of Land Management. Obama’s budget calls for 11,000 megawatts of new solar, wind and geothermal power on government-controlled land by the end of 2013. To put that in perspective, one of Nevada’s best-known solar plants — SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes project in Tonopah — will produce 110 megawatts, or 1 percent of what the president is expecting from the BLM’s new energy basin by the end of next year.

    • Copies of President Barack Obama's fiscal 2013 federal budget arrive Feb. 13, 2012, at the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.

      Pensions

      Don’t get a pension through work? The president wants to do something about that. In his fiscal 2013 budget, Obama proposes an automatic workplace pension system for employees of businesses that don’t offer retirement plans. As envisioned, it would be mandatory for employers to enroll their employees in a direct-deposit IRA account (employees who did not want to participate could opt out). The accounts are not being presented as an alternative to Social Security; the idea is to get more Americans saving for retirement.

    • Unemployment benefits

      The unemployment crisis has worn on for far longer than states like Nevada were prepared to deal with. Nevada depends on the federal government to cover unemployment benefits, creating a budget crisis that the Obama administration proposes tackling through tax cuts. For the next two years, the Obama administration plans on waiving the tax on employers that covers unemployment checks paid by states indebted to the federal government — the hope being that will encourage more job creation. In the meantime, the federal government continues to press indebted states like Nevada to make sure they are policing against improper payments.

    • Airports not flying so high

      The Obama administration was ambitious in this year’s budget when it came to transportation, floating the idea of a six-year, half-trillion dollar transportation bill, $47 billion of which would be for high-speed rail. But one area where the president wants to cut back is at bigger airports, like McCarran International. The president is aiming to slice about a billion dollars from the $3.3 billion aside for guaranteed airport grants. But the government is going to make it easier for airports to recoup some of those lost resources — from the airline passengers. Under the president’s budget proposal, larger airports would be given more flexibility “to increase nonfederal passenger facility charges.”

    • A MQ-9 Predator B, an unmanned aircraf, at a ceremony to celebrate the authorization from the FAA to use the aircraft to patrol the Texas-Mexico land border on Sept. 8, 2010, in Corpus Christi, Texas.

      Defense priorities

      The president wants to reduce the Defense Department’s budget by about a half-trillion dollars — money that his opponents charge will compromise the country and hurt industries that support the military. That may or may not be the case in Nevada: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta explained that these reductions are shifts in priorities: away from ground combat and toward the Air Force (meaning Nellis and other Air Force bases could grow).

      But one program getting more attention in the president’s budget is a weapons and surveillance system that is a Nevada specialty: The budget puts $3.7 billion toward unmanned aerial systems such as Predator drones, many of which are flown out of Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base, and Reaper drones.

    • Cheaper drugs

      The nation’s health care system will move toward implementation of Obama’s health care law in fiscal 2013. Meanwhile, the president is proposing some money-saving tweaks, and many have to do with Medicare. After 2017, for instance, the president proposes increasing income-based premiums for recipients of Medicare Part B and Part D (prescription drugs) by about 15 percent, and deductibles for new enrollees by $25. But he’s also got a plan to make those drugs cheaper: The president wants to authorize the Federal Trade Commission to block companies from making “pay for delay” agreements, which will speed generic drugs to market.

    • Work hard, study hard

      Those hoping for a slight increase in Pell Grants next academic year are out of luck: The president only guarantees they won’t drop. But Obama is proposing the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which gives working undergrads up to $10,000 per year in tax credits. If that is approved, it will let students put more of their hard-earned dollars toward paying for college.

    • Veterans’ health

      Las Vegas got a shout-out from the White House in its fiscal 2013 budget for the Veterans Affairs hospital that could open before fiscal 2013 commences. The president used the example of the Las Vegas Valley’s VA hospital to illustrate why he was proposing $792 million to improve and build new VA facilities in fiscal 2013.

    • A penny saved ...

      Is worth more than a penny made, for the federal government. It costs 2.4 cents to produce a one-cent piece, and 11.2 cents to produce a five-cent nickel. Sound ridiculous? The president thinks so. As part of his proposal to save money in the Treasury Department, he’s proposing “legislation to provide the Secretary flexibility to change the composition of coins to more cost-effective materials ... to improve the efficiency of the coin and currency-production efforts.” The budget doesn’t say what would replace the copper-plated zinc used in the penny or the copper-nickel alloy that goes into the nickel. But they predict it will save the country about $75 million. Lawmakers raised the issue, when metal prices skyrocketed. But no Congress has changed the law on penny-making since 1981.

    Join the Discussion:

    Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

    Full comments policy

    Previous Discussion: 7 comments so far…

    Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

    Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

    1. Why would anyone think this 2013 budget will pass? The calendar years 2009 & 2010, no budget passed with Democratic controlled House, Senate and President. The calendar year 2011 also never had a budget passed. The USA is running on empty and the fumes will soon run out.

    2. Doom and Gloom!

    3. How much subsidized energy can we pay for. First we subsidize it, then we pay higher energy bills to consume it. WHERE WILL THIS STOP?
      What happened to the idea that you study and work hard, you can get an education? Again, our state has scholarships, just sad that standards are so low.
      I may still be negative about Yucca, but it sure seems to me that if 10 billion dollars are spent on a hole in the ground, we should at least store some politicians and lawyers in it.
      And notice: Nothing said about gas prices, drilling and getting the jobs that can come in immediately, to take us away from dependence on others. Are we to continue to enjoy the price of fuel, utilities, food, water, travel and health costs rising, while people that work for us make huge salaries, that can't be justified? Help me!

    4. "It's the water, Stupid."

      Snowpack in the Rockies and the Sierras is about 30% of normal. Translation: Lake Mead will drop another 13 feet this year alone.

      Perhaps Yucca will come in handy for storing waste after all. Human waste that is since you won't be able to flush you toilets.

    5. When the average person thinks of Nevada, they think of SIN CITY Las Vegas, quickie cheap divorces in Reno, and Chicken Ranch-type brothels.

      Most of the land is owned by the Fed Govt, the extremely wealthy casinos, their head honchos, and the banks through foreclosures.

      The workforce is predominantly service-oriented to support the LARGEST employers, requiring only a small percentage of them needing a formal education.

      IMHO, the state should do everything in its power to bring in sustainable, ever-growing industries that have the wherewithal to succeed in the "background" of the current image, until such time as they overpower it or at least enhance it: HEALTHCARE, EDUCATION, SOLAR/WIND ENERGY, HIGH TECH DEFENSE COMPANIES to support Creech and Nellis AFB.

      The Lou Ruvo Center and Cleveland Clinic--we need more of them and more national and intl. marketing of them. We need THEM to provide TEACHING facilities, hospitals, and teaching technology centers.

      Same with ZAPPOs - why don't they open up a teaching facility for technology? That's what they are all about.

      And, the casinos - look how far Disney took its Disney University! They market classes as part of their tourism, local education and entertainment. The casinos/resorts should be INVESTING in every aspect of education to further their innovation base and hold onto being a world class adult entertainment capital.

      The sun and the wind are FREE, and NV has an AMPLE supply of both, but GREED gets in the way of progress, even when the resources are free.

      Nevada IS a diamond in the rough, just waiting to be mined, properly cut, and polished to outshine the rest of the West. It takes LEADERSHIP, VISION, and HARD WORK by the leadership.

      More should be REQUIRED of the mega-companies in this state to INVEST in IT, and not communist China, Mr. Wynn and Mr. Adelson.

      Mr. Governor, the LARGEST dept in your administration needs to be BUSINESS RECRUITERS, real ones, not your cronies, and YOU, SIR, should spend the MAJORITY OF YOUR TIME doing the same and DEVELOPING those already here.

      Nevada's biggest obstacle to success: the GREED of those in power who can make a difference.

      "Let the word go forth.....that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans."

      "...the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."

      "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."

      "All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin."

      "...let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own."

      "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country"

      ~from Pres. Kennedy's Inaugural Address, 01/21/1961

    6. Why even bother analyzing this? It's not going to happen! If Obama wanted it to happen, it would. He controls the Senate. He's got 51 votes. But the Dems don't even want this because it demonstrates what tax and spend liberals to do to our country. It's a shell game. Now Obama can say that bad Congress won't work with me. Thank God!

    7. We have a spending problem, NOT an income problem, it is a BIPARTISAN problem.

      The Govt has no income of it's own.

      All budget dollars come from either being removed from the American economy (66ish %) in some way OR are borrowed (33ish%). Also some dollars are legally stolen from Federal trust funds with those removed dollars backed by empty IOUs filled out by politicians who know the Govt cannot pay back the stolen monies.

      A relatively small portion is spent to fund needed and legitimate Federal programs and salaries. Some goes to legitimately defend the country from terror and other belligerent countries and to provide freedom of the seas. A bit goes to legitimate small allies who generally aid our defense efforts. WAY too little goes to take care of active duty personnel and Veterans and their families.

      A lot goes to failed Nixon and Carter era Federal Departments and programs that have not shown good results for the massive amounts of money spent on them. Some spending GREATLY weakens our defense by going to designed to fail military procurement programs and fake foreign adventures that we NEVER plan to win. Some goes to "foreign aid" which has a bad habit of ending up in Swiss bank accounts of socio-pathic foreign dictators. Some goes to "fact finding" junkets so politicians and their hangers on can pretend they are productive while actually on lavish vacations to exotic places.

      Too much of the spending weakens defense and troop morale by sending brave troops in harms way in useless "peace missions" and "police actions" and other poorly thought out undeclared wars. We end up with an overextended and poorly funded military with increasingly old equipment, too few spare parts, and too few troops.

      Some also goes to pay for MORE borrowing so they can continue to spend more than they take in on the failed items above.

      The budget can be explained roughly thus:

      The American economy will give the govt about 66 cents times 3.8 TRILLION and this is mostly will NEVER be returned to the economy of the USA.

      Meanwhile our "allies" contribute little to their own defense and spend their overburdened economies into unsupportable debt on massive unsustainable social welfare programs. For example, a small northern European country sends F-16s we loaned them money to buy to bomb people in a civil war using fuel and bombs we freely gave them from our stocks. Then the fake news is that the other country provided the planes and fuel and bombs etc....

      The Politicians are then amazed that taxpayers feel ripped off.