March Madness: Obama's Budget Nearly Doubles the Debt

For most sports fans this weekend was simultaneously ecstasy and agony. Ecstasy because almost every waking hour was filled with top-notch college basketball. Agony because almost inevitably our NCAA brackets end up as a crumpled up piece of paper that we’d just as soon forget.

It’s a tragic ritual. Every year we spend countless hours reading up on teams we didn’t even know existed, scanning statistics that exist solely for bracket-geeks, and watching games as if our very existence depended on it. But for all our work, for all our number crunching, we are almost always let down; crushed by the unpredictable nature of the tournament and beaten by the girl who makes her picks based on the teams’ colors.

Bracket busted.

While we were watching basketball and crunching statistics, the Congressional Budget Office was running its own set of numbers. The result is a just-released report examining the fiscal implications of President Obama’s 2013 budget. And shocker alert: they’re not pretty.

“Over the 2013-2022 period, the cumulative deficit that would result from enacting the President’s budget – $6.4 trillion (or 3.2 percent of GDP) – would be $3.5 trillion larger than the cumulative deficit projected under current law,” the CBO writes in its report. “About $2.9 trillion of that difference stems directly from proposed policy changes, and the other $0.6 trillion reflects additional interest payments resulting from increased federal borrowing.”

Budget busted.

And those numbers still give Obama the benefit of the doubt on certain gimmicks like $810 billion in credit for “war savings” – money that won’t be spent as a result of troop reductions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

All told, under Obama’s plan the federal debt held by the public would nearly double from $10.1 trillion at the end of 2012 to $18.8 trillion at the end of 2022. By comparison, when Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009, the debt held by the public (a different measure than the total national debt) was $6.3 trillion. If CBO’s conservative predictions come true, Obama will have increased the debt by an incredible 200 percent!

One reason for the projected spending increase is that Obama’s budget acts as if the automatic sequestration contained in the Budget Control Act, the bipartisan compromise that Obama signed to get a debt limit increase, never happened. Although those cuts were relatively modest and do little to avert the long-term budgetary disaster we face, Obama completely ignores them. It’s as if the entire summer’s worth of negotiations never happened.

Obama’s budget is far from the final word on the future of our nation. Next week Rep. Paul Ryan will introduce a different version for America’s future – one that fundamentally reforms the major drivers of our deficit and gives our generation the hope of a debt-free future. You can see Rep. Ryan’s preview here:

As the NCAA Tournament continues and your bracket becomes all the more busted, just remember, you’re likely only losing a few bucks. But when Obama busts the budget, we’re at risk of losing trillions. Risking that much money is what I call March madness.