That's how much the president wants to spend over the next fiscal year, Oct. 1, 2006, to Sept. 30, 2007.
Looking at that raw number, the first question that comes to mind is, what about the deficit? It's expected to hit a record $423 billion this fiscal year.
No worries. Administration accountants have wangled a way to get it to "only" $354 billion in 2007 and cut it to $183 billion by 2010. Of course, extensions of the president's favorite tax cuts will push it back up in 2011, but these folks will be in private sector posts by then, so ... .
Why do I keep seeing in my mind those credit card commercials that promise you'll save money by spending money, as long as you use their super-duper, special savings feature card? That's right, honey, I was just making us richer by spending as much as our credit limit will allow as quickly as I could.
I wonder how many such cards the pres has in his wallet. And can he use any of them to pay for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention post-Katrina rebuilding costs, all expenses that somehow always seem to be outside ostensible budget constraints?
Washington Post personnel thumbed through the document, known as the Blue Book, and offer an overview in this article. The paper has an agency-by-agency breakdown here. If you want the official word, you can go here for the Treasury documents.
While the pres purports the plan will cut the deficit, it has hiked Washington's decibel level. Political voices are being raised over the budget, which in reality is much like the State of the Union address: a wish list.
Actual budget making responsibility falls to Congress. That might seem like a slam-dunk since the GOP controls all of Capitol Hill, but it is an election year and some voters are concerned about the country operating in the red, government social programs and what kind of fiscal future their children and grandchildren will face because of current financial finagling.
Yes, it will be an interesting few months, both from an accounting and electoral point of view.
Tax spending: The budget has some specific outlays for the Treasury Department, overseer of everybody's favorite agency, the Internal Revenue Service.
There are, of course, provisions to make health savings accounts, as touted in the State of the Union, more appealing to individuals. The plan also offers some tax considerations for small businesses.
And the pres is still trying to tweak the tax code, one of his long-standing personal goals. This time, he wants to refine tax provisions as they relate to children.
According to a Treasury Department release that accompanied the budget, the pres wants to clarify the uniform definition of a child. Seems this definition, implemented just this year in an attempt to clear up earlier confusion about child-related tax breaks (such as dependent exemptions, child care tax relief and the earned income credit), continues to befuddle filers.
With the 2006 filing season underway, many taxpayers who've had to deal with the new guidelines have discovered that the change isn't working out quite as well as lawmakers had hoped. It seems that real life has a nasty habit of throwing a monkey wrench into theoretical presumptions of tax law applications.
So, again according to the Treasury Department, "to ensure that deserving taxpayers receive child-related tax benefits, the President's FY 2007 Budget proposes to clarify the uniform definition of a child."
There's also a budget call for alternative minimum tax relief. The 2007 document proposes extending existing (and temporary) AMT relief provisions through this calendar year and then finding a longer-term solution "within the context of fundamental tax reform."
Yeah, that fundamental tax reform that the president's special panel presented to him last fall and to which he said "later."
Finally, my favorite tax-related budget proposal: Improve voluntary compliance with the tax laws.
That's a big goal from an administration with a core message that taxes are bad and "it's your money." Now the pres, who's been telling us for years how tax-burdened we are, wants to make sure we pay these unwieldy taxes willingly.
I suspect the president's going to have to spend a lot more than he's got planned in this budget to get most Americans to now happily comply with our tax responsibilities.
Animal, vegetable or mineral? Speaking of the State of the Union, did you happen to hear this passage from the president?
"Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research, human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling or patenting human embryos."
Creating human-animal hybrids? Is this going on? Where? At the Sci-Fi Channel Biology Lab?
I'm thinking that maybe the pres and/or his speechwriters worked on one of the 12 drafts of the address while watching a Manimal marathon.
Maybe they had just seen, and were totally grossed out by, Rob Schneider's "The Animal." Revulsion is not an unexpected reaction to most Schneider flicks, not just this one.
Or perhaps the pres was put off by reading the "Island of Dr. Moreau," or more probably, watching the DVD with Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando. Although for me, Brando's appearance in that movie was more disturbing than any of the flick's human-animal special effects creations!
Mea Culpa: If you read this entry earlier and found it peppered with odd characters, I apologize. I was trying a posting shortcut. Didn't (obviously) work. Won't try it again. Thanks to my chum Luis for nitpicking and the hubby for helping correct them!