I'll say this: It takes quite a spat for the mainstream media to spurn their biggest crush -- on Valentine's Day, no less -- but President Obama's egregious budget has managed to suspend the magic. To wit, perhaps the most devastatingly truthful paragraph you'll ever read in an Associated Press story about this president:
Taking a pass on reining in government growth, President Barack Obama unveiled a record $3.8 trillion election-year budget plan Monday, calling for stimulus-style spending on roads and schools and tax hikes on the wealthy to help pay the costs. The ideas landed with a thud on Capitol Hill. Though the Pentagon and a number of Cabinet agencies would get squeezed, Obama would leave the spiraling growth of health care programs for the elderly and the poor largely unchecked. The plan claims $4 trillion in deficit savings over the coming decade, but most of it would be through tax increases Republicans oppose, lower war costs already in motion and budget cuts enacted last year in a debt pact with GOP lawmakers.
Ouch. Four sentences of distilled, White House-aggrieving honesty. Correspondent Andrew Taylor ought to have a back-up career in mind, just in case. In addition to documenting what the budget doesn't do, Taylor acknowledges that one of the few areas of federal belt-tightening would come at the Pentagon, which tracks perfectly with Obama's well-publicized defense gutting designs. While we're on the subject, check out this stellar chart from the New York Times, which helps visualize Obama's budget priorities. As someone (I've forgotten who it was) quipped on Twitter yesterday, the next time a Lefty wails about wasteful defense spending, pull up that graphic and laugh at their ignorance. The truth is that entitlement program obligations dwarf military spending, even though the latter is a Constitutional imperative. Entitlement spending is by far the biggest driver of our debt, yet all four of this president's budgets have effectively sidestepped any meaningful stab at reform. (All four have, however, succeeding in racking up annual deficits that exceed $1 Trillion, so there's that). At yesterday's press briefing ABC News' Jake Tapper helpfully framed Obama's proposals through the prism of an average American family's budget, and posed this challenge to White House spokesman Jay Carney:
The president, when he spoke to NOVA students and faculty earlier today acknowledged that the numbers and the budget were so big, they were difficult to talk about. And to break them down, it would be along the lines of a family that makes $29,000 a year spending $38,000 a year, so taking on new debt — $9,000 in new debt, with a $153,000 credit card bill that they were not able to pay down. That would be a way for — like the average American to afford – to understand it. Does that seem responsible?
Carney's response was predictably divorced from reality; he blamed the red ink on the situation Obama "inherited," and praised Obama's "bold" plan. First of all, what he inherited was a $10.6 Trillion deficit. Six trillion borrowed dollars later, he's now proposing to swell that debt bubble by an additional $11 Trillion. Second, the guy's been president for three years. His "the buck stops back there" routine is just pitiful at this point. Third, there is nothing "bold" about this budget, other than the stones it takes to produce something so wholly inadequate and try to dress it up as leadership. Speaking of stones, here's Carney asserting that the plan fulfills a "moral obligation" to cut the debt:
"The President’s vision for fulfilling the moral obligation to tackle the debt is contained within the budget he presented today," Carney said today to explain why Obama's budget does not cut more. "He certainly did not mean last summer that we should contract spending in a way that threw the very fragile recovery at that point into reverse and caused further job loss and inflicted further economic pain on the American people." Carney seemed irritated when a reporter noted that, under Obama's budget, the nation will be $25 trillion in debt by 2022. "I’m sorry, has someone else offered a $25 trillion debt reduction plan?" he asked. "Because I think I’d be interested to see it."
Well, at least he's learning from his boss -- torching strawmen is an Obama speciality. Rather than confront the White House budget's glaring shortcomings, Carney instead pivoted to attacking Paul Ryan's 2012 budget as an effort to "decimate" Medicare. Not only is this a variation on Politifact's lie of the year, it also ignores the empirical fact that the passage of time and basic math will decimate and end Medicare if we do nothing, which is essentially what Obama's budget suggests. Also, Ryan's 2012 blueprint saved $6.2 Trillion over Obama's offering, passed the House, and garnered 40 votes in the US Senate. Obama's previous "bold, moral-obligation fulfilling" budget attempt attracted precisely zero votes in Congress.
As a backdrop to all of this state-side excitement, Moody's has just downgraded six European nations. Another deeply troubled EU member, Greece, has just rolled out another round of severe austerity measures. The resulting unrest is what happens when an oversized goverment makes oversized promises to an increasingly dependent and entitled populace, then is forced to correct course suddently and painfully. Coming soon to a city near you?
Worth noting: When the US received its first-ever downgrade from S&P last year, one of the explicit reasons cited was Washington's lack of seriousness in curbing spiraling national healthcare costs. This president has given us Obamacare, which has increased federal healthcare outlays (he promised it would do the opposite), and four straight budgets that are virtually silent on Medicare/Medicaid reform. Heckuva job, champ.
UPDATE - Allahpundit notes that out of The One's $3.8 Trillion binge, he couldn't spare a few million to fund a successful and popular DC school choice program, which helps rescue poor inner-city students from their chronically failing public schools. The teachers' unions don't like the competition, so out comes Obama's rarely-used scalpel. Disgraceful.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography