More than two months after it was due, President Obama has finally released his budget plan. Having perused much of the budget it’s difficult to tell what he’s been doing for the last two months? Was he shaking the White House couch cushions in an attempt to dislodge a few more dollars he could spend? Was he polling Americans to test out more phrases like “balanced approach” that sound good but have no relation to the plan he wanted to propose? Because one thing is for sure, he didn’t use the two extra months to cobble together anything resembling a serious budget.
The biggest problem (surprise, surprise) is that it spends way too much. In fiscal year 2014, the only year that really matters given the questionable assumptions used in the out-years, Obama would spend $3.77 trillion. That’s massively higher than the $3.54 trillion we spent in 2012. It’s substantially higher than the Congressional Budget Office’s current baseline forecast of $3.6 trillion. And for goodness sakes, it’s even higher than the $3.71 trillion budget that the Senate Democrats proposed just last month!
This isn’t a balance budget. It’s not even a balanced approach. It’s to the left of the leftist chamber in government!
Of course, that hasn’t stopped the media from gushing. The Washington Post reports:
President Obama unveiled a 10-year budget blueprint Wednesday that calls for nearly $300 billion in new spending on jobs, public works and expanded pre-school education and nearly $800 billion in new taxes, including an extra 94 cents a pack on cigarettes.
But the president’s spending plan would also cut more than $1 trillion from programs across the federal government — for the first time targeting Social Security benefits — in an effort to persuade congressional Republicans to join him in finishing the job of debt reduction they started two years ago.
Perhaps that last bit could be construed as good news. At least Obama is willing to make some cuts to government and consider some changes to entitlements right…right? Wrong. Congressional Quarterly reports (hat tip to Veronique de Rugy at National Review):
Although the White House will tout its “balanced” 10-year, $1.8 trillion deficit reduction plan included in the budget, the net result after canceling the $1.2 trillion sequester would be about a $600 billion net reduction in the deficit over a decade — about the same as the additional tax hikes on the wealthy that the president wants.
In other words, every dollar of deficit reduction that the budget proposes for the next ten years is purely the result of tax hikes. The president would not only completely undo the sequester – which, we should clarify, is not even a cut, but is a reduction spending growth – he would also pass another $300 billion stimulus package. Moreover, the few spending cuts the president actually does propose are wholly contingent on Republicans agreeing to massive tax hikes. Politico reports:
[President Obama’s budget] also includes an estimated $230 billion in savings by reducing cost-of-living adjustments for federal entitlement programs.
But all of those cuts — which White House aides say the president is ready to make — depend on whether Republicans agree to new tax revenues, including requiring people who make $1 million or more to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes and limiting deductions for the top 2 percent of earners.
“If they refuse to include revenues in any deal, then there will be no deal. It’s that simple,” a senior administration official said in a briefing call with reporters Tuesday.
What pray tell would give Republicans any incentive to come to the table? The plan spends more money, it hikes taxes way more than it ever cuts and any spending reductions are far into the future. As CQ reports (courtesies once again to National Review):
Many of the president’s plans to cut spending phase in toward the end of the 10-year budget window, effectively trading the pain of the sequester now for entitlement trims later.
Except later never seems to arrive with Obama at the helm. The immediate tax hikes are always very real and the promised entitlement cuts and spending reductions always seem to drift into the ether of politics. And that’s exactly where the entirety of this plan needs to go. Because it is now abundantly clear this is little more than a political statement, not a legitimate entry into what should be a serious discussion about how to reduce the deficit.