President Obama's just-released $3.8 trillion budget has lobbyists all over the city scouring the massive document to find the implications for their clients and industries. There's little fear that the recommendations will become law now, but the budget lays down important political markers that will play out in coming debates over corporate tax reform, sequestration, and eliminating the Bush tax cuts. And K Street is not about to let them go unchallenged.
For instance, Obama's spending blueprint proposes eliminating a dozen oil, gas and coal tax breaks worth $41 billion over the next decade. The American Petroleum Institute is launching TV, print and online ads this week in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and inside the Beltway that outline the negative effects increased energy taxes will have on consumers and business. The ads, which are scheduled to run through the end of the month, are in addition to the Vote 4 Energy ads that will continue to run nationally.
Making a return appearance to the budget this year is a $61 billion tax on the largest financial institutions to offset the costs of the bank bailouts and Obama's mortgage refinancing program. The so-called "bank tax" has made an appearance in the president's last three budgets, said American Bankers Association executive vice president James Ballentine.
"It's been a nonstarter the last couple years. I don't expect there to be any movement by Congress to bring this up. If there is, we'll employ grassroots as necessary and go from there. We can only go on the history of how it's been received and it's not been received well," he said. "If we get some sense of movement, we will act accordingly. We don't plan to do anything aggressive at this point."
But the potent cocktail of an engaged Occupy Wall Street movement, Obama's more populist tone and an election year could put this issue back in the spotlight.