Jacob Sullum

Here is how The New York Times described the reaction this mandate elicited: "Budget analysts promptly burst out laughing." The fiscally conservative Republican Study Committee, perhaps fearing that the White House was right in thinking that voters can't do basic math, performed the calculation for them, dubbing the president's initiative "Obama's 0.0025 percent spending cut."

Obama also talks about $2 trillion in "savings" over the next decade, but this amount consists mostly of tax hikes and phantom reductions from unrealistically high baselines. Meanwhile, he is seeking big increases in domestic spending, especially on energy, health care and education.

This year, the Associated Press notes, "the government will have to borrow nearly 50 cents for every dollar it spends." Even with optimistic economic assumptions, the Obama administration projects budget deficits of more than $500 billion every year from 2010 to 2019, totaling $7.1 trillion in additional debt at a time when Social Security and Medicare spending will be skyrocketing due to the retirement of baby boomers -- a problem Obama has not begun to address.

"We can no longer afford to spend as if deficits do not matter and waste is not our problem," the president said last week. "We can no longer afford to leave the hard choices for the next budget, the next administration -- or the next generation." I wish that Obama had some influence on the one who is setting the administration's fiscal policy.

Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
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