Top 5 Federal Budget Issues in 2016

Photo courtesy of Amodiovalerio Verde

2015 was chock full of defining moments. The US reached a nuclear deal with Iran, gay marriage became the law of the land, and 196 countries approved the first ever global deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions. But this year also brought darker tidings: spurred by January’s violence at Charlie Hebdo and December’s in San Bernardino, calls for American "boots on the ground" grew to a fever pitch. Meanwhile, the Pentagon's $43 million Pentagon gas station in Afghanistan demonstrated that our government is as misguided as ever when it comes to our priorities. 

Looking ahead, here are five things you can expect to make big news in 2016:

1. Presidential Election and Candidate Coverage

The 2016 presidential race has been heating up all year, with candidates debating in eight debates on critical issues ranging from ISIS to campaign finance to spending on Social Security. In 2016, we’ll be bringing you updated voter’s guides to make sure you can make informed decisions at the polls and making sure you know how federal spending being discussed by candidates affects your state. We’ll make sure that any time the candidates are – or are not – talking about major federal budget issues, you hear about it.

2. Pentagon Spending and Waste

In 2015, we heard a lot of stories about how the Pentagon wasted millions on private villas and millions more on a gas station. While every other federal agency is required to complete an audit every year, the Pentagon has no such requirement, so we can’t always be sure it’s spending your tax dollars efficiently. In 2016, as always, we’ll be keeping an eye out for how the Pentagon spends its budget and highlighting any mismanagement. We’ll also keep our cost of national security figures up to date so you have up-to-the-minute info on how much we are spending on the Pentagon, war, and more. Every dollar misspent by the Pentagon is a dollar that’s not being used to create opportunity and investment here at home. We’ll also provide you with lots of options in our updated trade-offs tool so you can reallocate spending how you see fit.

3. Taxes and Tax Breaks

Let’s face it: our tax code is rigged to favor corporations and the wealthy. The recent tax deal passed by Congress had a major win for low- and middle-income families by continuing expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, but it also made permanent major tax breaks for corporations. In 2016, you can count on us to tell you how your tax dollars are spent, and how much revenue we lose from tax breaks in the tax code (more than $1 trillion each year). We’ll also be sure to keep you apprised of any tax developments in Congress.

4. ISIS and Terrorism

Back in October, the president announced that the U.S. would send troops to Syria in an advisory role. We’ve heard it before. U.S. troops were deployed to Iraq last year in a so-called advisory role, yet the Pentagon announced a recent US combat death just days before the president’s announcement. Operations against ISIS are a slippery slope. As of today, the US has spent nearly $7.5 billion on operations against ISIS, and costs will only rise with troops on the ground. We’ve already spent more than $1.6 trillion on war overall since 2001. We’ll be tracking any new developments on operations against ISIS and championing smarter alternatives to war.

5. Federal Education Spending

It’s increasingly difficult to join the middle class in America without a decent education – and it’s only getting harder. The rising cost of higher education is prohibitive for many students and their families. So is the cost of early childhood education, making it difficult for children, especially those in low-income households, to benefit from preschool. In 2016, we’ll be taking on issues of access and inequality education head on by highlighting how the federal budget can rectify them. 

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