President Obama established a bipartisan debt-reduction commission -- and then ignored its findings, which called for unpopular reductions in entitlements and across-the-board spending cuts. His first two budgets led to the largest deficits in U.S. history. The ensuing $3 trillion dollars in red ink prompted the Tea Party movement and led to the largest midterm defeat of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives since 1938.
No matter. The president has proposed a new budget with an even larger, $1.6 trillion deficit. That record federal borrowing prompted columnist Charles Krauthammer to describe it as Louis XV indulgence, an allusion to the wild royal spending that brought about the French Revolution. Even Newsweek editor at large Evan Thomas, who once gushed that Obama stood "above the world" as some "sort of God," called the president's new budget a "profile in cowardice." After Obama leaves office, a perfect storm of rising international interest rates, an anemic dollar and panic on the part of foreign lenders may force an end to this unhinged American rush to borrow and blow what it has not earned.
Gas prices in many parts of the country are nearing $4 a gallon; it could get even worse as unrest spreads throughout the oil-exporting Middle East. Yet the Obama administration once again seems to see no crisis. It has curtailed new leases for offshore oil exploration for seven years and exempted thousands of acres in the West from new drilling. It will not reconsider opening up small areas of Alaska with known large oil reserves.
Instead, the administration in 2009 pushed through cap-and-trade legislation in the House on the dubious proposition that, in times of unusually cold American winters, the planet is warming up. Accordingly, the administration would like to tax further the already high price of fossil fuels rather than go all out to look for more. Yet importing more oil from abroad and growing more subsidized biofuels at home will lead to a disastrous trifecta of borrowing even more money, ensuring greater global pollution and causing higher world food prices.
Obamacare -- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- was pushed through the Senate in 2009 through backroom deal-making and special perks for fence-sitting senators. The premise was that it would save both patients and the nation billions of dollars. But updated estimates now suggest that the takeover of health care will cost the country about $2 trillion over the next decade while disrupting and making more costly existing health plans.