President Obama's budget is hypocrisy in hard copy.
In 2009, Obama pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term. On Monday, he officially broke that promise, by unveiling a budget with the fourth consecutive deficit in excess of a trillion dollars. By the end of 2012, the national debt will exceed $16 trillion and by 2022, a whopping $25.9 trillion.
Obama's budget is a failure of leadership. The White House seems utterly unconcerned with the unsustainable trajectory of the national debt. In pursuit of their agenda, they refuse to be inconvenienced by insolvency. Their nonchalance is as appalling as it reckless.
"Now is not the time for austerity," says Jack Lew, Obama's budget director turned chief of staff. But if not now, when? When America is in the throes of our own economic Greek tragedy?
Democrats in the Senate are no better. They have failed to pass a budget for over 1,000 days. On Sunday, Lew defended the Democrats, saying repeatedly "It takes 60, not 50, votes to pass something." Actually, the Senate does not need 60 votes to pass a budget resolution. Only a simple majority is required.
Either Lew was being intentionally disingenuous, or Obama's former budget director does not even know how to pass a budget. It's hard to decide which would be more disturbing.
Really the White House is just not bothered by the Senate's budget shenanigans. Last Wednesday, Press Secretary Jay Carney said flatly the administration has "no opinion" about whether the Senate should pass a budget. Fiscal responsibility is apparently not a top priority.
But it was Obama's new budget man, Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeffrey Zientes, who took the prize for defending the indefensible. He told MSNBC on Monday that "I think the president has put forward today a balanced budget." When your budget director thinks a budget with a $1.33 trillion deficit is "balanced," it's time for a new budget director.
Obama has demonstrated no desire to make tough choices. Americans demand a more efficient, effective government, but his budget calls for more taxes and more spending. It employs deceptive accounting gimmicks but does nothing to tackle long-term entitlement problems, nothing to save Medicare or fix Social Security.
In contrast, Republicans understand the seriousness of our fiscal situation. Under the leadership of Speaker Boehner and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Congressional Republicans last year passed a budget and a plan for long-term solvency and stability. Democrats were uninterested.
Instead, for all their talk of "fairness," Democrats have unfairly asked our children and grandchildren to pay for the president's spending spree. Democrats, despite their rhetoric of defending Medicare and Social Security, have not lifted a finger to ensure those programs exist in the long run. They enjoy accusing Republicans of wanting to "end Medicare as we know it." But even with "Medicare as we know it" going bankrupt in ten years, Obama does not propose any meaningful reforms to extending the long-term solvency of Medicare.
The president and his enablers are in denial. With a true crisis looming, Obama and company forecast only blue skies. That should worry voters. A president unable to speak truthfully about a crisis surely cannot solve it.
Of course, as Obama campaigns for reelection, he'll promise to do things differently in his second term. He may even promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of it. But voters know better. We've heard that promise before. No American would make the mistake of falling for it again.
On Monday, as the Obama administration unveiled its budget, the Obama campaign had an unveiling of its own: an online "Truth Team" enabling supporters to respond to anyone who "misrepresents the truth" about the president's record.
But before the Truth Team unleashes their veracity on an opponent, they should first take a look at a statement from the president's preface to his budget. "This budget," he writes, "contains a number of steps to put us on a fiscally sustainable path."
With statements like that, Obama has created more than a budget deficit. He's created a serious deficit of trust.
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