The Biden Budget Does Some Good on Poverty and Fairness. It Could Do More if it Cut the Pentagon.


Bar chart showing that for both the Biden FY 2204 discretionary budget request and the FY 23 enacted budget, military spending is far higher than other categories

The president’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year, released March 9, was heralded by human needs groups for preserving and in some cases expanding critical human needs programs to address poverty, hunger, health care, and protect children and seniors in particular. 

But as the above chart shows, the Biden budget continues to fund the Pentagon and war at levels that far outpace all federal programs for housing, education, public health, and more.

The Biden budget does a few big things to take on poverty and help those who are struggling: 

  • It would restore the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax credit to levels that helped slash poverty during the pandemic. 

  • It would provide nutrition and free school meals to 9 million additional children.

  • It would provide $59 billion in new funds toward the construction of affordable housing and increase rental vouchers for affordable rentals.

The Biden proposal also raises revenues in fair and equitable ways, countering a tax system that has been rigged to favor the wealthy and corporations:

  • It would increase Medicare contributions for those with incomes over $400,000.

  • It would implement a 25 percent “Billionaires Minimum Income Tax” and implements other changes to tax wealth and income from investments more like income from work.

  • It would raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, from 21 percent.

But as the chart above shows, the discretionary portion of the budget - the portion Congress reallocates each year - would be largely unchanged despite all this.

That means that once again, the lion’s share of discretionary funding - more than half - would go to the Pentagon and war. 

The proposals in the Biden budget that would really change lives, like restoring tax credits for children and low income people, don’t show up in the chart above. They’re part of the mandatory budget.

But the chart shows one thing clearly - that we are investing billions and billions into the Pentagon and war. And that we could afford to do so much more to help struggling families and workers if we slowed the flow of billions of dollars to Pentagon contractors for weapons that don’t make us safer. 

Take into account the fact that Congress will in all likelihood raise Pentagon and war spending for next year higher than the Biden request, all while challenging human needs spending, and it's clear that keeping the status quo on Pentagon spending means needlessly keeping millions mired in poverty.