How About Tackling Obesity in the Federal Budget?
Call Monday’s 2012 budget release the St. Valentine’s Day Non-massacre.
President Obama’s budget director Jacob Lew announced on Monday that he was presenting Congress with a budget that would compel the nation to “live within our means, but also invest in the future.”
Can we leave out “but also invest in the future”?
Why does Obama always append damaging clauses to seemingly responsible proposals? Is it so that when he fails to do what he should—have us live within our means—and merely does what he wants—spend, spend, spend—he can say he at least kept half his promise?
In a press conference defending his proposal, Obama scolded Republicans about the need to have an “adult conversation” with him on the budget and stop being “impatient” about his failure to deal with entitlement reform.
Obama is enormously proud of the fact that he has pledged to freeze domestic spending for the next five years. Since that means freezing spending at 2010 levels, which were 22% higher than bloated 2008 levels, Obama has done the equivalent of freezing the national diet at Michael Moore’s instead of Alec Baldwin’s.
Even Obama’s spending freeze applies only to non-defense discretionary spending, which makes up just 15% of the federal budget. His proposal does nothing to address reform of Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security.
Everyone knew that the bipartisan deficit reduction commission Obama sanctioned last year to “study” the federal debt and make recommendations was window dressing. Obama never had any intention of following recommendations that were unpalatable for his base, such as raising the retirement age for Social Security or means-testing Medicare.
But the $3.73 trillion 2012 budget, and projected $1.65 trillion 2011 deficit, Obama unveiled on Monday set staggering, all-time records that shocked even his supporters.
Obama’s 2012 budget will cause our federal debt to jump from $14.2 trillion to $15.5 trillion, which will render the federal debt greater than the size of the entire U.S. economy for the first time in history.
By 2013, the federal debt will equal 106% of the U.S. economy. That rosy scenario, by the way, will happen only if the next two years see the U.S. economy roaring back to life and demonstrating much higher growth than in recent years—which the Obama administration, with complete, non-self-serving objectivity, is absolutely certain will happen.
By 2016 the federal debt will swell to $21 trillion.
Obama claims his administration’s proposed 10-year budget outline makes “tough choices and sacrifices.” What, specifically, does his budget sacrifice? The expectation that he will ever get serious about our national debt?
Perhaps one sacrifice is Obama’s pledge to reduce funding to lower-income people to pay their heating bills. How many of you realized there was a federal program in place to help poor people pay their heating bills? I propose that if the average American didn’t even realize he was subsidizing a federal program, then trimming it doesn’t count as a sacrifice.
In defending their budget, Obama and Lew have displayed the air of surly teenagers who want to show their parents just how much they’ve suffered, rather than responsible adults who want to solve a problem. Lew whined on Monday, “It’s important to note that we’re beyond the easy, low-hanging fruit. We’re reducing programs that are important programs that we care about.” (“But Mom, I made my bed—why do I have to clean my whole room?”)
Obama’s budget is so elephantine—no pun intended—even liberals are embarrassed by its sheer cowardice and unresponsiveness to financial conditions. Obama’s deficit commission chairman, Democrat Erskine Bowles, complained that the budget is “nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare.”
To the extent Democrats care at all about cutting spending, of course they want to slash defense appropriations. Fine—but defense spending makes up only 20% of the federal budget, even with two ongoing wars. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other “mandatory” programs make up more than 50%, and “discretionary” programs like the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency make up another 20%. If we agree to cut defense spending 10%, could we get Democrats on record favoring a piddly 5% cut in entitlement spending?
During the third 2008 presidential debate, when moderator Bob Schieffer asked the candidates what they would cut from the federal budget, Senator John McCain declared that he would use a “hatchet,” then get out a “scalpel” to finish the job, a response Senator Barack Obama ridiculed as too radical.
How about a hatchet, then a machete to catch everything we missed with the hatchet, then a 60-ton M1 Abrams tank over anything left standing? Will Democrats finally get the message about the crisis we face after that?
As Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels put it in his speech at CPAC last weekend, “Our morbidly obese federal government needs, not just behavior modification, but bariatric surgery.”