9 Hidden Gems in the Obama Budget

Hello tobacco tax. Goodbye horse meat inspections. President’s wish list ranges from asteroid avoidance to zeroing out abstinence-only sex education.

Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:26pm

President Barack Obama unveiled his $3.77 trillion budget Wednesday, and a survey of CQ Roll Call beat writers turned up the following choice nuggets:

1. $78 million for asteroid retrieval. NASA wants to research robotic technology to move an asteroid closer to Earth, so that we can send astronauts to it.

2. $0 for abstinence-only sex education programs. Such programs got $5 million for grants in fiscal 2012, but the administration wants to zero them out.

3. A ban on horse meat inspections. The administration is assuming there will also be a ban on horse slaughter, and therefore no need to inspect horse meat.

4. $943 million bailout of the Federal Housing Administration. As a result of the 2008 financial and mortgage industry meltdown, the FHA continues to suffer the consequences of bad loans.

5. $7.5 million for a consumer complaint line. To be stationed at the Transportation Department for airline passengers; estimated to create one new job.

6. Require electronic filing of Senate campaign finance reports. This is a cost-effective measure long pushed for by government watchdog groups (and journalists). House candidates have been required to file reports electronically for years.

7. Less food aid from American farmers. The administration still would require 55 percent of foreign food aid to be bought in the U.S. but it wants more flexibility to buy locally in the regions where the U.S. is providing food for refugees or those affected by famine.

8. $78 billion tax hike on tobacco products. Obama’s proposal to extend preschool programs for children under age 4 would be financed by increasing the federal tax on tobacco products by 94 cents, resulting in nearly $80 billion over 10 years.

9. Selling the Tennessee Valley Authority. The administration says it “intends to undertake a strategic review of options for addressing TVA’s financial situation, including the possible divestiture of TVA, in part or as a whole.”

Gauthem Nagesh, Kate Ackley, Emma Dumain, Emily Cadei, Nathan Hurst, Steven T. Dennis, Kerry Young and Emily Ethridge contributed to this report.