WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama will unveil his latest budget proposal Monday during an appearance at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale. The budget request he is sending to Congress is long on election cycle promises with what may prove to be long-term negative results for an already struggling economy.
With $350 billion in short-term stimulus spending, the plan that is tailor-made for his re-election campaign with no chance of passing Congress. The Whitehouse plan forecasts a higher than expected deficit of $1.33 trillion for the current fiscal year and asks for $1.5 trillion in tax hikes over the next decade.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office sees the budget proposals as nothing but election year theatrics. “Honestly, my expectations couldn’t be lower,” he said. “He has put out budgets that lead to a death spiral. His budgets have never added up, and he has a propensity to use it as a very powerful campaign tool.”
Alabama Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is ranking member of the Budget Committee, said Mr. Obama’s previous budgets have been “exceedingly irresponsible” and exhibit the president’s aversion to reducing the nation’s $15.3 trillion debt.
“Our systemic debt problem requires the nation to make serious choices,” Mr. Sessions said. “A good leader should tell the American people what the options are. I remain baffled that the president seems unwilling to do that.”
A surprising range of critics is speaking out about Mr. Obama’s poor track record on budget proposals. Many point out that he promised in February 2009 that he would cut a deficit of $1.4 trillion in half by the end of his first term. Rather than cut the deficit, the annual deficit for 2012 is projected to equal the year he took office.
White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew defended the President on FOX News Sunday. In that interview and other he contended that administration officials were unaware how bad the recession was when Mr. Obama made that promise. “The economy was softer than anyone knew at the time, and we had less revenue coming in, and it means there was a deeper hole to dig out of than anyone could envision” at the time, Mr. Lew said.
But Sessions says Republicans are rightfully guarded when it comes to the president’s math. He points to the administration counting on $1 trillion in war savings over the next decade. A figure that is inflated and impossible to guarantee. “This is not healthy; the president should submit an honest budget,” Mr. Sessions said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat – Nevada) says previous budgets from the President have been undermined by the Senate’s failure to adopt them. Reid says he won’t bring up the new budget to the Senate for a floor vote. This comes as no surprise to his opponents since Democratic leaders haven’t approved a budget in more than 1,000 days.
Mr. Reid contends there is no need to do this because the agreement last summer on raising the debt ceiling set spending levels for this year.
While speaking to CNN, Mr. Lew blamed Senate Republicans for the failure to pass budgets. “You can’t pass a budget in the Senate of the United States without 60 votes,” he said. However, that statement is incorrect. Some details of an approved budget may take 60 votes but the budget itself requires only 50 with a friendly vice president, to pass.
Mr. Holtz-Eakin, president of the nonprofit American Action Forum, said the federal budget is an important blueprint for the nation’s priorities and that Mr. Obama is failing to use it to set a sustainable, responsible path forward on the biggest questions of the day such as shoring up Social Security and Medicare.
“The budget is the policy of the U.S. government,” said Mr. Holtz-Eakin, who served as chief economist to Republican President George W. Bush and was director of the CBO during Mr. Bush’s presidency. “He’s missing in action. It’s very frustrating.”
The end result for Americans is an economy that is struggling and even more deficit spending over the next decade. Yet one more reason to learn to be as self-sufficient as possible. For now it seems, all we can trust the government to do is make things worse rather than better.