The Los Angeles Times:President Obama likes to talk about those "Sputnik moments" when the nation rises to difficult challenges like the one posed by the Soviet space program in the 1950s. On Monday, he had a chance to turn his federal budget proposal into his own such moment. He whiffed.
It's becoming hard not to conclude that Obama doesn't much care about the debt threat or has decided to wait until after the 2012 elections. Either would be a shame, and economically risky.
President Obama's budget for fiscal year 2012 landed with a thud Monday, laying out short- and long-term tax and spending plans that disappointed lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The proposal was a remarkably tame response to Washington's fiscal problems, not the bold statement about belt-tightening that the White House had suggested was coming. Yet the biggest shortcoming is that it all but ignored the most important long-term financial challenge, which is the growing cost of entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid.
THE PRESIDENT PUNTED. Having been given the chance, the cover and the push by the fiscal commission he created to take bold steps to raise revenue and curb entitlement spending, President Obama, in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, chose instead to duck. To duck, and to mask some of the ducking with the sort of budgetary gimmicks he once derided...Is it too much to ask for more from Mr. Obama than an airy set of "principles for reform"? Sadly, the answer appears to be yes.
Predictably, the home of Paul Krugman, Frank Rich, and Maureen Dowd finds the budget to be "responsible" and "encouraging," castigating Republicans as unworthy "negotiating partners." Sigh.
We are disappointed the Obama administration has decided to double down on the status quo by submitting a 2012 budget plan of $3.73 trillion in spending, or 25 percent of gross domestic product — the highest level since World War II. The budget would add $8.7 trillion of new spending — and $7.2 trillion to the federal debt — over the next 10 years.
Most troubling, the president's budget ignores the majority recommendations of his own bipartisan deficit commission, which must have been created just to give Democrats political cover last fall. If not, why didn't the White House suggest implementing a single major element in the deficit-reduction plan? Nothing on Social Security. Nothing on Medicare.