The National Priorities Project released a suite of charts illustrating President Obama’s 2016 budget proposal, as well as spending trends over time.  

The nine charts include:

  • 2016 Proposed Total Spending
  • 2016 Proposed Discretionary Spending
  • 2016 Proposed Mandatory Spending
  • 2016 Proposed Revenue
  • Mandatory and Discretionary Spending and Interest on Federal Debt
  • Military and Non-Military Discretionary Spending Over Time
  • Individual and Corporate Income Taxes as Percent of Total Federal
  • Revenue Over Time
  • Annual Deficit or Surplus Over Time
  • Federal Spending and Revenue as a Share of GDP Over Time

President Obama's seventh budget proposal requests a total of $4.1 trillion in fiscal year 2016, an increase of 2 percent over 2015 spending levels. That includes $1.15 trillion for discretionary programs, including $74 billion in additional discretionary spending above the sequestration caps set in place for the upcoming year. The additional spending would be about evenly split between defense and non-defense discretionary programs. A total of $534 billion would be allocated to the Department of Defense, the highest Pentagon base budget in history. 

The new budget would also call for $3.5 trillion in total revenue collection in fiscal year 2016, which includes an increase in tax revenue collected from wealthy individuals and corporations. It would also invest in many domestic initiatives that would be widely popular with the American people based on opinion polling. An emphasis on job training and job creation, education, and a reduction in corporate and other tax loopholes largely reflects Americans' priorities.

See National Priorities Project's downloadable and shareable charts here.

View a full analysis of the president's budget proposal and how key initiatives stack up against what Americans want.

Growing Rods Reduce Number of Surgeries for Kids with Scoliosis

Physicians with the Division of Pediatric Orthopedics at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt have started to employ a new, advanced technology that uses magnetically controlled growing rods to correct scoliosis in young children, reducing the need for frequent surgeries and anesthesia in these patients.

Scoliosis is an abnormal, sideways curvature of the spine, which in serious cases can lead to severe physical deformity, shortened trunk height and, eventually, pulmonary and cardiac problems. In young patients with severe, uncontrolled scoliosis, growing rods can be inserted in the spine to improve the deformity and prevent progressive worsening. Traditional growing rods have required minor surgery with general anesthesia about every six months to lengthen the rods as the child grows.

But with MAGEC, physicians hope to make the repetitive surgery and anesthesia almost disappear. MAGEC stands for MAGnetic Expansion Control, and involves inserting two adjustable magnetic rods into the back during a minimally invasive surgery.

Jeff Martus, M.D., assistant professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation and pediatrics, says the technology will help reduce the psychological impact that patients may experience with multiple surgeries. For a patient with traditional growing rods inserted at age 5, that would translate to at least 10 surgeries by the age of 10.

“This is really exciting technology involving magnetically controlled growing rods approved by the FDA,” says Martus, an orthopedic surgeon at the children’s hospital. “Surgery is still required to insert the rods, but the advantage is that the rods can then be lengthened in clinic without sedation using an external remote device. Ultimately, this treatment will lessen how often these children require surgery.”

The external remote controller is placed on the back and communicates via magnets how much the rod needs to lengthen. Doctors can use radiographs or ultrasound to confirm the rods have lengthened successfully.

“The potential to be able to reduce the number of surgical procedures that, until now, have been a necessity in managing children with early onset scoliosis, is the most appealing aspect of this new technology,” says Gregory Mencio, M.D., director of pediatric orthopaedics at Children’s Hospital and vice chair of the Department of Orthopedics. “The efficacy and safety of this technique have been demonstrated in Europe and clinical trials in this country. We are excited to be able to offer this option to our patients and families,”Mencio says.

Study Tracks Yoga Therapy for Cancer Patients

Cancer is bad enough. But cancer patients who receive surgery, radiation and chemotherapy may suffer from side effects that run from irritating to crippling — problems that are postural, musculoskeletal and respiratory, along with lowered self-esteem. Many suffer from lymphedema, swelling caused by retained fluid in a compromised lymphatic system.

One answer may be the ancient practice of yoga. Researcher Sheila Ridner, R.N., Martha Rivers Ingram Professor of Nursing, is conducting a pilot study, in which head and neck cancer patients are receiving yoga therapy. It’s designed to increase the mobility of affected parts in order to address lymphedema symptoms, postural problems, and breathing issues, in addition to improving mood.

“Breathing, particularly diaphragmatic breathing, helps move the fluid and standing upright clearly takes away restrictive bends in the body that might keep fluid from moving,” Ridner says. 

For the last year, study participants have been coming to the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing for 90-minute, one-on-one sessions with Sujatha Yarlagadda, yoga therapist and assistant in Nursing. Each session includes awareness practice, postures that focus on improving mobility in the neck, jaw and shoulders, breathing exercises, relaxation and meditation.

They come three times a week for a month, while Yarlagadda helps determine which of 16 yoga poses are effective “to loosen the entire body and facilitate free flow of energy,” she says. The sessions are filmed, and participants can leave with a DVD of the session that they can use to practice yoga at home.

Ridner compares the participants’ physical measurements taken after the four weeks of treatment to before. Then, the patients come two times a week for another four weeks, a similar regimen to what they would receive if they received traditional physical therapy, Ridner says.

So far, more than 20 people have participated, out of a pool of 40 that Ridner hopes to recruit. Though the study is not scheduled to end until July 31, Ridner is encouraged by the changes she’s seeing in patients.

“They walk better,” she said. “They’re standing up straighter. They say hi when they see people and they have a smile on their face that they literally didn’t have when they first came in the door.”

Michael Walsh, a neck cancer survivor who is finished with his part in the study but continues to practice yoga, said he’s much improved. He’s resumed playing ice hockey on weekends, something he had to give up after the cancer treatments rendered him unable. “It feels a lot better, and I know that because I’m not getting my headaches that I used to get,” he says.

The study is being funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Martha Rivers Ingram Chair in Nursing and the School of Nursing.