A Look at What’s Inside Biden’s $6 Trillion Budget Request

By Brad Plumer, New York Times  • Posted: Monday, May 31, 2021

President Biden’s funding request to Congress lays out his economic ambitions, with proposals for significant new spending in areas like infrastructure, education and the environment.

President Biden is seeking to increase taxes on corporations and high earners to raise funds for his budget proposals.
Sarah Silbiger for The New York Times

President Biden’s first budget request maps out a vision of an expansive federal government in the years to come, with increased spending in areas like infrastructure, education and climate change.

The $6 trillion plan for the 2022 fiscal year, released on Friday, provides a detailed accounting of Mr. Biden’s economic agenda. It includes two marquee proposals that he has put before Congress: the American Jobs Plan, which calls for new spending on the nation’s infrastructure, and the American Families Plan, which addresses issues like child care, universal prekindergarten and paid family and medical leave.

As part of those plans, Mr. Biden is seeking to increase taxes on corporations and high earners. The president’s tax proposals are detailed in the budget request as well.

The budget expands on a proposal that Mr. Biden released in April covering discretionary spending, which sketched out his desire to inject funds across domestic agencies, a sharp reversal from President Donald J. Trump’s spending policies.

Here are some of the notable proposals in Mr. Biden’s budget request.

 

An offshore wind turbine facility near Block Island, R.I.
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Climate change is back in the budget.

The budget proposal adds $14 billion in new money across government agencies to policies and programs devoted to climate change — a stark contrast to the Trump administration, which tried, unsuccessfully, to zero out funding for dozens of clean energy programs.

It also includes the first request for international climate change assistance since 2017. The Biden administration will ask Congress for $1.2 billion for the Green Climate Fund, a United Nations entity created as part of the Paris agreement on climate change to help developing countries.

President Barack Obama pledged $3 billion to the fund but delivered only a third of the money during his term. Mr. Trump withdrew from the Paris agreement and also stopped payments into the Green Climate Fund. Mr. Biden, on his first day in office, recommitted the United States to the global accord and promised to restore Mr. Obama’s foreign aid commitments.

Domestically, the Biden administration said its funding across agencies would help build the nation’s capacity to transition from fossil fuels to wind, solar and other renewable energy. The budget proposal also includes details of the administration’s pledge to devote at least 40 percent of spending on climate change to communities of color, which studies have shown are disproportionately affected by both air pollution and climate change.

The administration is proposing $11.2 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, a 22 percent increase from the previous year. The E.P.A. was consistently targeted for deep cuts under the Trump administration, and its climate change and health programs were typically dealt particularly heavy blows.

The new blueprint makes the case for new spending on environment infrastructure — like replacing all of the country’s lead pipes — after a decade of budget caps and cuts that the administration said caused the agency’s budget to decline by 27 percent since 2010.

It includes $936 million for a new E.P.A. program to address racial disparities in exposures to environmental contamination. That program will include $100 million for air quality monitoring and notification technology in communities that will provide real-time data in places with the highest levels of exposure to pollution.

The budget allocates $580 million to plug old oil and gas wells and clean up abandoned mines — a plan the Biden administration has eyed for both new jobs protecting communities against the environmental dangers that thousands of old abandoned mines across the country pose as well as a way to prevent future global warming pollution.

David Coursen, a former E.P.A. attorney who works with the Environmental Protection Network of former agency officials, called the budget request “robust” and said it would “help rebuild the agency after years of chronic disinvestment.”

A plan to fund clean energy technologies.

President Biden’s budget proposes more than $800 billion over the next decade in new spending and tax breaks in a bid to accelerate the deployment of clean-energy technologies aimed at fighting climate change, from hydrogen fuels to the next generation of nuclear power plants.

Mr. Biden has vowed to slash America’s planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 to help stave off the worst effects of global warming, and the White House is betting that it can reach that goal in large part by using the federal government’s resources to help fund millions of new wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles as well as newer technologies that do not produce carbon dioxide.

The overwhelming majority of the new energy spending being proposed in the budget would depend on Congress passing Mr. Biden’s infrastructure proposal, which still faces an uncertain fate. Republicans in the Senate have pushed back against spending on items like electric vehicle charging stations.

In his budget, Mr. Biden is proposing $265 billion over the next decade to expand and extend federal tax breaks for companies that build clean energy sources such as offshore wind turbines or battery storage on the grid. He is also calling for $9.7 billion worth of tax credits to help maintain America’s existing fleet of nuclear reactors, which do not produce carbon dioxide emissions but have faced the risk of closure in recent years because of competition from cheap natural gas.

The budget also proposes $10 billion in tax credits for trucks that do not produce planet-warming emissions, such as those powered by batteries or hydrogen, as well as $6.6 billion for cleaner jet fuels and $23 billion to incentivize new electric transmission lines that can transport wind and solar power from far-flung regions in the country. And it proposes to spend $23 billion over the next decade on tax credits for companies that install “carbon capture” technology at power plants or factories.

Mr. Biden is requesting to increase the Energy Department’s budget by $4.3 billion, or 10.4 percent, with much of the focus on enabling the deployment of clean energy sources. That includes $1.9 billion to help make homes more energy-efficient and speed up permitting of transmission lines.

Mr. Biden is also calling for federal agencies to spend $50 billion over the next decade to procure clean-energy technologies for their own use, including electrified Postal Service vehicles, lower-carbon materials such as steel and cement, as well as electricity from advanced nuclear power plants that are still under development.

To a smaller extent, Mr. Biden is also proposing to cut the federal government’s spending on fossil fuels, by rescinding $35 billion worth of subsidies over the next decade for oil, gas and coal companies, including the repeal of tax breaks for well depreciation and a tax credit for drilling expenses. The administration is proposing to raise an additional $84 billion by changing how the government treats extraction and foreign income for oil and gas producers.

In addition to spending, Mr. Biden’s climate plans will depend heavily on a separate proposal for a clean electricity standard that would require the nation’s electric utilities to steadily increase their use of all these new low-carbon energy sources until they had zeroed out their emissions in 2035. That policy is only mentioned in passing in the budget, and it would require Congress’s approval.

— Brad Plumer

 

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