After a stunning victory in Congress which passed his budget priorities last month, President Obama unveiled the details of his 2010 budget May 7th.

One of the biggest accomplishments in the budget plan is a more than $630 billion health care reform effort. The details of that proposal will depend on the outcome of congressional debates and votes by this fall, but the Obama administration has sought a reform package that provides a public healthcare choice for uninsured Americans and those who find private insurance too costly, while preserving a private insurance market for those who prefer to buy insurance there.

In other areas of the budget, however, Obama urged cuts and fiscal responsibility. He launched military procurement reform that will eliminate tens of billions of dollars in wasteful and unnecessary military programs. He also ordered almost every federal agency and department to scrutinize their budgets line by line to eliminate wasteful spending.

In addition to the healthcare reform package, the funding proposals in the Obama budget for the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signal an important change of priorities in the White House after eight years of neglect from the Bush administration.

According to an online video posted at the Department of Labor’s website, the $13.3 billion discretionary portion of that department’s $104.5 billion proposed budget will go to funding worker protection programs ignored or defunded by the Bush administration. (The bulk of the DOL budget goes to fund unemployment compensation programs for laid-off workers.)

The DOL will hire investigators and enforcement staff for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure employers follow safety and health regulations. In addition, the department will similar staff for its Wage and Hour Division to ensure that employers are following federal wage laws.

A DOL released earlier this year revealed that budget cuts and neglect under the Bush administration had caused a dangerous lapse in enforcement of safety and health laws.

In video posted at , Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said, ‘With these increases, Labor’s worker protection agencies will be able to vigorously protect wages and working conditions of the 135 million workers in more than 7.3 million workplaces.’ She added that her department has been tasked to help develop innovative ways to promote economic recovery, create jobs and assist the administration in developing the ‘green economy.’

In conjunction with the president’s emphasis on protecting the environment and reversing the impact of global climate change, the EPA will see a 10 percent boost in funding over fiscal year 2009.

‘After suffering a 27 percent budget cut over the last eight years, the president’s proposal is $10.5 billion,’ EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told reporters on a conference call May 7th. ‘I won’t try to act like this is some sort of austerity budget.’

The EPA budget includes billions in new funding for clean water and drinking water projects that will help states finance infrastructure improvements to bring higher quality water to local communities. About $1.3 billion has been earmarked for Superfund clean-up projects, $475 million for the Great Lakes Initiative, $842 million for investments in science, research and technology and much more.

“EPA’s new budget reflects the President’s commitment to growing a clean energy economy while protecting human health and the environment,” said Administrator Jackson. “These investments demonstrate that it is possible to work towards both a green economy and a green environment by positioning EPA to lead the way in green jobs, in innovation and technology, and in action on global climate change.”

Proposals for each agency have to be approved by Congress and signed by the president in law. The budget reconciliation process, however, prevents Senate Republicans from using the filibuster to control the appropriations agenda.

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