Learning nothing from his party's November "shellacking," President Barack Obama offers a 2012 budget that proves, yet again, he believes in government as fervently as President Ronald Reagan believed in the individual.
Obama ignores the recommendations of his own bipartisan deficit-reduction commission, as well as polls showing voters want smaller government, and smugly proposes more spending, higher taxes and even bigger government. Obama then holds a press conference and, with a straight face that would have shamed Baghdad Bob, claims his budget "will not be adding more to the national debt."
The Obama-loving leftist media won't be critical. After all, MSNBC just aired a special called "President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon."
Obama's '12 budget -- and its 10-year projection -- adds nearly $9 trillion in new spending over the next decade. It nearly doubles our national debt from the current $13.5 trillion to more than $26 trillion by 2021. It imposes nearly $2 trillion in additional taxes. It leaves untouched the three major entitlements -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- that account for nearly half the budget. After 10 years, it leaves an annual budget deficit of some $700 billion, or nearly 50 percent more than President George W. Bush's 2008 budget -- and even that assumes rosy scenarios on GDP growth and tax revenues. Only in the area of non-defense discretionary spending did Obama propose the most inconsequential of cuts.
Erskine Bowles, the Democrat deficit commission co-chair and former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, said the budget is "nowhere near where they will have go to resolve our fiscal nightmare."
Predictably, an Associated Press piece on the budget led with this sentence: "Putting on the brakes after two years of big spending increases, President Barack Obama unveiled a $3.7 trillion budget plan Monday that would freeze or reduce some safety-net programs ... ."
In Obama's first two years in office, he increased federal spending by nearly 30 percent over fiscal year 2008 and added $3.5 trillion in new debt. He sold that spending as one-offs, emergency measures like TARP-expansion and "stimulus" designed to "rescue" the economy from a depression. Obama's 2012 proposed budget stays at that high level -- with new spending ("investments") and higher taxes taking the place of the alleged one-time-only "emergency" spending.
The budget includes taxes hikes on individuals, small businesses, corporations and estates. It increases taxes on capital gains and dividends. Americans for Tax Reform said: "Rather than focusing on Washington's overspending problem, the budget calls for higher taxes on families and small businesses to pay for even more government spending. Under the Obama budget, tax revenues will grow from 14.4 percent of GDP in 2011 to 20 percent of GDP in 2021. ... Add it all together, and this budget is a 10-year, $1.5 trillion tax hike over present law. That's $1.5 trillion taken out of the economy and spent on government instead of being used to create jobs."
So here's the 10-point game plan for Obama, lifted from the 1994 Clinton playbook:
1) Give lip service to the "peril" of the debt and deficit, and offer to rein in spending. Then do nothing of the sort.
2) Wait for the Republicans to call the budget unserious, a charge the GOP will make even more loudly than back in '94, given the influence of and pressure by the tea party.
3) Dare them to make cuts, especially on entitlements.
4) Denounce Republican-proposed cuts as irresponsible, that they "mortgage our nation's future."
5) Dare the Republicans to threaten to shut down the government. Even better, hope that they go through with it.
6) Watch the nightly newscasts parade "victim" after "victim" who can't pay bills or take a night class or enroll in a training program or ...
7) Turn House Speaker John Boehner into a crumb-snatching, heartless, ice-water-in-veins ghoul the way Clinton did Newt Gingrich.
8) Wait for Gallup to produce polls "blaming" Republican intransigence for the government shutdown. Watch the Republicans blink and accept a larger budget than they want -- but a much smaller one than Democrats want.
9) Kick entitlement reform down the road, and let a future president and Congress to deal with.
10) When the deficit goes down -- and the economy performs better than it would have if left to Obama/Reid/Pelosi -- take credit. Cruise to re-election.
Yes, free-market economists and conservative and libertarian think tanks will produce persuasive studies to show how the economy suffered under Obama's tax, spend and "invest" policies. Not to worry. They will be ignored.
Post-presidency, the globe-trotting Obama will offer sage advice about this and that, while raising money for the Obama Presidential Library. Then he'll kick back in his lounge chair, light up a cigarette and enjoy a CNN "news" special report: "First Black President of the World: The Barack Obama Phenomenon."