Can't or won't? You be the judge. Either way, Sen. Jeff Sessions isn't pleased:
“Your budget increases the deficit by $8.2 trillion over ten years, yes or no?” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., asked Zients during a hearing. “I need to check the numbers,” Zients said. “There are a lot of numbers there. What I can tell you is we should focus on — this is exactly what Bowles-Simpson does and other groups. What is the deficit as a percent of our economy? We are less than 2 percent at the end of the window, at 1.7 percent.” Sessions pointed out that the Obama budget would raise taxes by $1 trillion and increase spending “by almost that same amount, virtually having no deficit reduction.”
Zients is either demonstrating incompetence or calculated evasion here. I suspect it's probably the latter option. This administration has a history of declining to state basic statistics about deficits in public, for fear of creating a YouTube moment. Yeah, of course there are "a lot of numbers" in the document. It's a budget of nearly $3.8 trillion. But this guy is the director of the White House's budget office. It's pretty much his entire job to produce this puppy...which he and the president finally did, nine weeks late. Are we to believe that Zients doesn't know how much the proposal adds to the deficit? Of course he does. He must. $8.2 trillion is a big number, which is why he doesn't want to say it out loud for the cameras. By the way, Zients' predecessor made statements that were either totally ignorant or flagrant political lies. That individual has been promoted to Treasury Secretary. Sessions does a nice job hammering away at this point; the tail end of the clip is important, too. The ranking Republican uses the budget's own data to show how Obama's unbalanced plan achieves negligible deficit reduction, despite calling for $1 trillion in tax hikes. The answer to that riddle is a familiar one by now: The taxes are primarily used to finance higher, accelerated levels of federal spending.