VETERANS HEALTH CARE
The Veterans Affairs Department would get a $25 billion increase over the next five years and much of it would go toward health care. The extra money would allow another 5.5 million veterans to get care. Non-disabled veterans with modest incomes, for instance, will be allowed into the VA health care system for the first time in more than six years.
Obama would set up a pilot program to help get more poor older Americans involved in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The budget says older Americans are among the “most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach” people who are eligible for the aid. Obama also would increase funding for food banks and other feeding programs that help the poor, including the SNAP program.
The blueprint increases the Food and Drug Administration budget by $1 billion to protect the nation’s food supply.
The Obama budget proposes employers who do not provide retirement benefits be required to automatically enroll employees in a “direct-deposit” IRA account. This would increase the participation rate from 15 to 80 percent for low- and middle-income workers, the budget document claimed.
Public transit would get a boost, including a $5 billion installment on Obama’s campaign promise to build a national network of high-speed passenger trains. Those funds, to spread out over five years, are on top of the $8 billion for high-speed trains in the recently enacted economic stimulus bill.
Tamara Lytle was a correspondent and Washington bureau chief for theOrlando Sentinelfrom 1997 to 2008.