Obama's budget blueprint increases tech spending

By , IDG News Service |  Government, Barack Obama, legislation

U.S. President Barack Obama's new budget blueprint includes millions of new dollars for health IT and for technology research, according to the budget document.

The US$3.6 trillion budget blueprint, released Thursday, includes a $25 billion increase in the budget of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over the next five years, with some of that money going to updated health IT systems. This first Obama budget document includes broad goals, but generally doesn't include details about how agencies will spend the money allocated to them.

The budget documents also note that the recently passed economic stimulus package includes $19 billion to drive adoption of electronic health records.

In addition to the budget increases, the blueprint stresses the importance of technology improvements.

"To create a platform for our entrepreneurs and workers to build an economy that can lead this future, we will begin to rebuild America for the demands of the 21st Century," the budget says. "We will repair crumbling roads, bridges, and schools as well as expand broadband lines across America, so that a small business in a rural town can connect and compete with its counterparts anywhere in the world. And we will invest in the science, research, and technology that will lead to new medical breakthroughs, new discoveries, and entire new industries."

The budget refers to the $7.2 billion in broadband grants and loans approved in the economic stimulus package.

The budget includes $70 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Technology Innovation Program, which invests in tech research. Obama's budget also includes funding increases for cybersecurity efforts at the Department of Homeland Security, new money for technology at the Securities and Exchange Commission and new money for the Government Accountability Office to make information on government contracts available to the public.

In addition, the National Science Foundation's budget would increase from $6.1 billion in fiscal year 2008 to $6.9 billion in 2009. Part of the budget increase will go into the NSF's Advanced Technological Education program, which works with two-year colleges to improve science and engineering technician education.

Several Republican lawmakers ripped into Obama's budget, saying it was fiscally irresponsible. The budget will increase the U.S. budget deficit to $1.75 trillion in 2009, but Obama's goal is to cut the deficit by more than two thirds by 2013.

"Unfortunately, this budget plan is once again a missed opportunity for American taxpayers -- it raises taxes on all Americans, implements massive new spending, and fails to make any tough choices to control the deficit and long-term fiscal crisis posed by the huge entitlement programs," said Senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican. "Where is the spending restraint? Instead, government spending continues to grow and expand, while the economy continues to suffer."

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