Building Ladders of Opportunity
The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget demonstrates that we can make critical investments to strengthen the middle class, create jobs, and grow the economy while continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way.
The President believes we must invest in the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising and thriving middle class. He is focused on addressing three fundamental questions: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do the jobs of the 21st Century? How do we make sure hard work leads to a decent living? The Budget presents the President’s plan to address each of these questions.
To make America once again a magnet for jobs, the Budget invests in high-tech manufacturing and innovation, clean energy, and infrastructure, while cutting red tape to help businesses grow. To give workers the skills they need to compete in the global economy, it invests in education from pre-school to job training. To ensure hard work is rewarded, it raises the minimum wage to $9 an hour so a hard day’s work pays more.
The Budget does all of these things as part of a comprehensive plan that reduces the deficit and puts the Nation on a sound fiscal course. Every new initiative in the plan is fully paid for, so they do not add a single dime to the deficit. The Budget also incorporates the President’s compromise offer to House Speaker Boehner to achieve another $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction in a balanced way. When combined with the deficit reduction already achieved, this will allow us to exceed the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, while growing the economy and strengthening the middle class. By including this compromise proposal in the Budget, the President is demonstrating his willingness to make tough choices and his seriousness about finding common ground to further reduce the deficit.
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The Budget builds on the progress made over the last four years to expand opportunity for every American and every community willing to do the work to lift themselves up. It creates new ladders of opportunity to ensure that hard work leads to a decent living. It expands early childhood learning to give children a foundation for lifelong learning. It supports a partnership with communities to help them thrive and rebuild from the Great Recession. It creates pathways to jobs for the long-term unemployed and youth who have been hardest hit by the downturn. It rewards hard work and reduces inequality and poverty by supporting an increase in the minimum wage. And it strengthens families by removing financial deterrents to marriage and supporting the role of fathers.
To build ladders of opportunity, the 2014 Budget will:
Increase Access to High-Quality Early Childhood Education. To build a foundation for success in the formative early years of life, the Budget outlines a proposal to increase access to high-quality early childhood education with the Preschool for All initiative. This initiative is financed by raising the Federal tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products, which would also have substantial public health impacts, particularly by reducing youth smoking. In addition, the Budget makes three complementary investments, including Preschool Development Grants, to help States build the infrastructure so they can participate in Preschool for All; an Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership fund to increase access to high-quality early learning environments; and an extension and expansion of the evidence-based voluntary home visiting program to provide our most vulnerable parents and children with the education and services to ensure our youngest children develop into healthy learners in safe homes.
Provide High-Quality Preschool for All. In partnership with the States, the Budget provides all low- and moderate-income four-year-olds with high-quality preschool, while encouraging States to serve additional four-year-olds from middle-income families. The initiative also promotes access to full-day kindergarten and high-quality early education programs for children under age four. To support this initiative, the Budget also proposes a $750 million investment in Preschool Development Grants to ensure that States willing to commit to expanding preschool access are able to make the critical investments necessary to serve their four-year-olds in high-quality programs.
Invest in High-Quality Infant and Toddler Care. The Budget provides $1.6 billion for companion investments in high-quality early learning for infants and toddlers through new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.
Invest in Effective Parent and Family Strategies. The Budget also provides $15 billion to extend and expand evidence-based voluntary home visiting programs that allow nurses, social workers, and other professionals to connect families to tools that positively impact the child’s health, development, and ability to learn.
Support Raising the Minimum Wage to $9.00. No one who works full-time should have to raise their family in poverty. The Budget supports the President’s call to reward hard work by raising the Federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour and indexing it to inflation thereafter, so working families can keep up with rising costs. Raising the minimum wage would directly boost wages for 15 million workers and would reduce inequality and poverty in our country while helping more families realize the American Dream.
Partner with Communities to Help Them Rebuild. The Promise Zones initiative will revitalize high-poverty communities across the country by attracting private investment, improving affordable housing, expanding educational opportunities, providing tax incentives for hiring workers and investing in the Zones, reducing violence, and assisting local leaders in navigating Federal programs and cutting through red tape. The Budget expands the contribution of the following programs to Promise Zones:
Promise Neighborhoods. The Budget makes a significant $300 million investment in the Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods program, an initiative that supports high-need communities that combine effective, cradle-to-career services for children and families with comprehensive reforms centered on high-quality schools.
Choice Neighborhoods. The Budget also includes a $400 million investment in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods program, which supports the redevelopment of distressed HUD-assisted housing and revitalization of surrounding high-poverty neighborhoods.
Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grants. The Budget provides $35 million to invest in proven public safety strategies to reduce serious crime and violence in high-need communities.
Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2). Through SC2, Federal agency personnel will be deployed to partner with distressed communities, including Promise Zones, to provide technical expertise, help the communities identify ways to leverage existing Federal investments to improve community outcomes, and help build the capacity of local government.
Create Pathways to Work for Every American. Investing in our nation’s low-income youth, and connecting those who have experienced long-term unemployment to jobs, is critical to building long-term prosperity and ensuring that our economic recovery reaches all Americans. The Budget creates a $12.5 billion Pathways Back to Work fund to make it easier for workers to remain connected to the workforce and gain new skills for long-term employment. This initiative will support summer and year round jobs for low-income youth, subsidized employment and job training opportunities for unemployed and low income adults, and other promising strategies designed to lead to employment. The Budget also proposes a $4 billion Reemployment NOW program, which helps States fund innovative strategies to connect workers receiving unemployment insurance and other long-term unemployed individuals with job opportunities.
Strengthen Families. The Budget supports the President’s commitment to promoting healthy marriages for all families and supporting the critical role that fathers play in enhancing the intellectual, emotional, and financial well-being of their sons and daughters. The Budget proposes allowing existing Federal programs, like the child support program, to implement models that get more men working and engaging with their children. It also supports States in testing strategies to overcome financial deterrents to forming safe and stable marriages.
Prevent Hunger. Nutrition is critical to the nation’s overall health and children’s development and academic achievement. At a time of continued need, the Budget provides $7.1 billion in funding to support the 8.9 million individuals expected to participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which supports pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and young children. The Administration also continues its support of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the cornerstone of our Nation’s food assistance safety net that touches the lives of more than 47 million people by helping families put food on the table.
Make Tax Cuts Permanent for Working Families. The Budget permanently extends expansions of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit that were passed in the Recovery Act and continued as part of the bipartisan Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act and The American Taxpayer Relief Act that the President negotiated and signed into law in January 2013. The expanded refundability of the Child Tax Credit benefits 12 million families with 21 million children. The expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for married couples and families with three or more children provides tax cuts averaging $500 to 6 million families. These improvements lifted 1.6 million Americans out of poverty in 2010. The Budget also proposes to make permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which currently helps about 11 million students and families afford college.
Support Responsible Homeowners and Help Them Stay in Their Homes. The Budget continues the President’s commitment to supporting responsible homeowners who are building ladders of opportunity for their families. The President has put forward a legislative plan to support responsible homeowners by making millions more eligible for streamlined refinancing, which can save hundreds of dollars a month. In addition, the President has expanded efforts to help families avoid foreclosure by making 12-month forbearance for unemployed borrowers an industry standard and expanding eligibility for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The Administration continues to support housing counseling programs for households at risk of foreclosure and low and moderate income households. The Budget provides $55 million for HUD's Housing Counseling program and $204 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, including $77 million for the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) program. NFMC has delivered counseling to over 1.4 million households.
Increase Funding for Homeless Assistance Grants. The Budget provides $2.4 billion -- $480 million above the FY 2012 enacted level -- for Homeless Assistance Grants. The request allows HUD to renew all existing assistance, as well as provide $60 million for new targeted rapid re-housing and $40 million for new permanent supportive housing, serving an additional 30,000 people. This $100 million funding increase will primarily be administered by nonprofits, and helps make progress toward ending homelessness by supporting the goals of Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
Support Businesses in Underserved Communities. Even in the more constrained budget environment, the Administration continues to support robust funding of programs that support growth and access to credit in underserved and lower-income communities. To help businesses thrive, the Budget will:
Support Growth and Lending. The Budget provides $225 million for the Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, which provides capital to low-income communities across the Nation and is targeting a portion of its funds to help bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved urban and rural communities. The Budget promotes entrepreneurship in underserved areas by providing funding for Small Business Administration entrepreneurial education programs. This includes $40 million for an entrepreneurship training initiative that will target small business owners who are currently poised for growth.
Enhance Small Business Access to Credit. The Administration is working to improve access to capital for small businesses, which are the engine of economic growth and job creation. The Budget supports $29 billion in loan guarantees in SBA’s 7(a), 504, and Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) programs, in addition to $25 million in direct microloans.
Cut Taxes for Small Businesses Seeking to Grow and Expand. The President is proposing to build on the 18 small business tax cuts he has already signed into law with new tax cuts to encourage growth and investment.
Make Communities Safer by Reducing Gun Violence. We can protect our Second Amendment rights while coming together around reforms like background checks to make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun—common-sense reforms that will help protect our citizens from the scourge of gun violence that has plagued too many communities across the country. On January 16th, 2013, the President announced his gun safety initiative which consisted of several legislative measures now currently under consideration by the Congress and numerous executive actions, most of which are already well underway. The 2014 Budget includes $667 million in additional resources to help implement the President’s gun safety plan which includes closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands and taking other common-sense steps to reduce gun violence; making schools safer; and increasing access to mental health services.