Donald Lambro

There's more money for his green energy boondoggles that have led to embarrassing bankruptcies and relatively few jobs. There's $100 billion for roads and railways, $1 billion for 15 new federal institutes to teach innovation to manufacturers, and $8 billion for community colleges to help students obtain jobs. The spending list is seemingly endless.

Ask economists what is driving the government's higher deficits -- besides entitlements and discretionary spending -- and they'll point to weak economic growth and the high unemployment rates that have squeezed government tax revenues. Obama's anti-job growth budget is Exhibit A in both cases.

His budget also calls for modest cuts in Social Security benefits by curbing the way annual cost of living increases are measured. But the Democrats will never vote to slow the growth in entitlements.

When Obama took office in 2009, he promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. He's never come close.

Obama's record-shattering deficits since he took office: $1.4 trillion in 2009; $1.3 trillion in 2010; $1.3 trillion in 2011; $1.2 trillion in 2012; and nearly $900 billion this year, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Unprecedented federal spending levels, far in excess of the government's income, are also fattening the publicly held debt as a percentage of the U.S. economy. In 2010, that debt rose to more than 50 percent of the economy.

Under Obama's budget it would get worse, a lot worse. According to CBO, the ballooning debt will be 87.4 percent of the economy by 2021 if steps are not taken to slow the rate of spending and strengthen economic growth.

"Obama turned a temporary expansion of government, through TARP and the auto bailouts, into a permanent expansion of government," says Stanford University economist Keith Hennessey.

"Before Obama, federal spending averaged 20 percent of GDP (the economy's entire gross domestic product) for decades. Now he is presiding over a much bigger government, at 24 percent," Hennessey says.

Obama wasn't in a hurry to send this budget to Capitol Hill. He was no doubt taking time to ruminate about his politically risky proposal to cut into Social Security cost-of-living increases would fare in his own party. They didn't like it.

While the change in the inflation measurement sounds courageous, it would reduce future cost of living increases by a mere three-tenths of one percentage point annually, or about $13 billion a year. In terms of the huge insolvency gap we face from entitlements, his thimble-sized proposal hardly nicked the problem.

Or maybe Obama realized that presidential budgets, for all the media attention, are routinely ignored by Congress. In this case, though, the House and Senate budgets had already left the station before his plan got there.

Arriving 65 days late, this is the first time in almost 100 years that a president has sent his budget to the Hill long after House

Republicans and Senate Democrats adopted their own spending plans.

There's a vast difference between Congress's versions. The House raises no taxes, balances the budget and reforms Medicare, offering a choice between the existing system or a federally-assisted, less costly private plan.

The Senate's bill would raise taxes, doesn't balance the budget and ignores entitlements. In fact, four Democrats voted against it.

The unfathomable policy-making gulf between the two still seems beyond the reach of any possible compromise. There is no way the House will vote to raise either taxes or spending.

But with Obama's plan on the burial list, maybe there's a glimmer of hope that a scaled down budget with no new taxes can emerge later this year. We'll see.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.