President Barack Obama's budget proposal for fiscal 2012 will be released in mid-February, a little more than a week after its planned release date. The administration is scrambling to assemble what could be a pivotal document following a six-week delay in the confirmation of the White House's new budget director, a senior administration official said Monday.
The budget's release date will be pushed back from Monday, Feb. 7, to some time the following week, the official said. The White House's new budget director, Jacob Lew, saw his confirmation put on hold by Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who was protesting the administration's moratorium on offshore oil drilling. Mr. Lew was confirmed Nov. 19.
The official also cited Congress's late moves to fund government operations for the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. Last week, Congress passed a resolution funding the government largely at last year's levels, but only through early March.
That means Mr. Obama will be releasing his budget plan for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, 2011 just as he prepares for difficult negotiations with House Republicans over spending for the current budget year.
The spending blueprint for fiscal 2012 could be momentous. Mr. Obama has promised spending cuts that will embody the "shared sacrifice" he says is needed to tame the $1.3 trillion budget deficit. It is also expected to launch broader debates about reshaping the U.S. tax code to make it simpler and to bring in more revenue. It also is likely to refer to changes the administration says need to be made to Social Security to secure the system's long-term solvency as the nation's population grows older.
Regardless of the president's proposals, the Republicans who will be controlling the House next year have vowed to make deeper cuts. Incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) has pledged to reduce domestic federal spending to the levels of 2008, before the financial crisis and the recession. White House officials have said cuts of that magnitude would imperil the economic recovery.