Budget Requests and Budget Reality

President Obama is scheduled to release his budget for fiscal 2016 on Monday, starting a months-long debate between the White House and Republican Congress on the proper role of government in the economy. But beyond those philosophical arguments, the budget also contains something that can get lost–exactly how much money the president thinks his executive agencies, which make up the majority of federal spending, should get.

The White House has let select initiatives they want attention focused on drip out ahead of the official release. Those proposals include a one-time tax on U.S. companies’ foreign earnings to fund infrastructure repairs, a $215 million “precision medicine” program that will aim to record the DNA of 1 million Americans and having the government fund two years of community college.

While those proposals are not insignificant, the meat of the budget–the top-line numbers for the agencies–will be kept under wraps until Monday.

Ahead of that, we wanted to add some perspective to how closely the president’s request tracked with reality last year. Using data from the House Appropriations Committee explanation of the “cromnibus,” the bill that funded most of the federal government for fiscal 2015, we built the chart below to show how the president’s request for last year compared to what the agencies ultimately got. We selected the agencies or offices most relevant to health, energy, finance and tech policy.


[visualizer id=”10437″]


The chart illustrates some clear winners and losers. Health and Human Services is surprising winner, with a $1.68 billion boost over what Obama asked for in 2015. The Internal Revenue Service sits at the other end of that spectrum, getting a $1.53 billion cut from what the president requested.

This is the first budget request Obama sends to a fully Republican Congress, and it’s possible the difference between what the president asks for and what his agencies get will be even wider by the time negotiations over fiscal 2016 funding come to a close.

After the president sends his budget, the next major step in the process is for the House and Senate Budget Committees to release their own blueprints for federal spending. Republicans have already promised their drafts will differ significantly from the president,  meaning the columns in the above chart will likely get taller in either direction.


Morning Consult