For the fifth time in six years, Barack Obama missed his budget deadline -- and for the sixth time in six years, the spending blueprint he eventually produced never comes close to balancing. The Washington Post previewed Obama's budget last month, noting that the White House would peddle it as an end to America's "era of austerity." That's rich. Under this president, the federal government has spent more money annually than at any other time in US history. Annual deficits have ranged between $500 billion and $1.4 trillion. Prior to Barack Obama's presidency, the United States had never racked up a single trillion-dollar annual shortfall. On his watch, Washington has done so four times. The Congressional Budget Office projects that on our current trajectory, we'll hit $1 trillion again within eight years. Various fact-checkers have confirmed that among his many predecessors, President Obama is the "undisputed debt king," having added more than $6 trillion to the nation's red ink since taking office in 2009. In his first campaign, Obama called President Bush "unpatriotic" for amassing more than $4 trillion in gross national debt over two full terms in office. So that, ladies and gentlemen, is the "era of austerity" that Obama has magnanimously decided to end. His new grand vision, the Associated Press reports, will "appeal to Democrats," and is a politically-charged "messaging" document, according to Time:
Obama’s $3.9 trillion budget represents a laundry-list of policy proposals designed to help Democrats hold the Senate and pick up seats in the House. Obama essentially conceded the point last month, when the White House announced he is dropping calls for an unpopular, but cost-saving measure to change the way inflation is calculated for the purposes of entitlement programs like Social Security. That compromise was intended to be a good-faith offer to Republicans as part of a grand bargain, but gridlock and declining deficits have placed the national debt on the backburner. The new budget, by contrast, is chock full of wedge issues designed to exploit the divide between Democrats and Republicans, and it has been released under Obama’s populist State of the Union theme “Opportunity for all,” which the president hopes to make a rallying cry for Democrats this year.
Having dropped any pretense of getting serious about entitlement reform -- which he's (correctly) deemed essential in the past -- Obama's latest proposal presents a Christmas tree of liberal policy wishes:
The budget also includes additional funding to improve background checks for gun purchases and money to help state and local police forces train for active shooter incidents in the wake of Sandy Hook. It adds $1 billion for a “Climate Resilience Fund” to help research and prepare for the effects of climate change. It would even increase federal defense spending by $28 billion over the caps set in the 2013 budget agreement. Other proposals include a “race to the top”-style program to incentivize states and localities to embrace energy efficiency legislation. There’s additional funding for job training and infrastructure that Obama has long requested but has never been able to get through Congress, and a proposal to auto-enroll Americans in retirement savings accounts. The budget also restates Obama’s calls for existing priorities like continuing the Affordable Care Act and passing comprehensive immigration reform. It repeats his call from last year’s budget to extend pre-k education for more children, paid for partly by higher taxes on tobacco products.
Gun control, immigration reform and climate change are extremely low priorities for most Americans, but not for Barack Obama. The American people want jobs and a vibrant economy -- two goals that Obama's agenda has explicitly obstructed, according to nonpartisan analysts. A majority of voters believe the first $825 billion "stimulus" bill was a failure, and accurately so, but that hasn't stopped the president for calling for even more borrowed stimulus spending. The government's own gold-plated study determined that government-funded universal pre-K programs are a massive waste of money and don't work. Full speed ahead, Obama says. That also applies to Obamacare, naturally, and its tidal wave of government spending that will bend the cost curve up, in yet another violation of this president's word. The House Budget Committee (update: in conjunction with Republican Senate budget staffers) lambastes the document as a tax-hiking, spending-increasing, debt-exploding, unbalanced mess:
- This budget increases spending by $791 billion over the budget window—and by $56 billion above the Bipartisan Budget Act levels in 2015 alone.
- It adds $8.3 trillion to the national debt over the budget window.
- It calls for $1.8 trillion in new taxes—though the President has already raised taxes by $1.7 trillion during his administration.
- This budget never balances—ever.
Those numbers are derived from OMB's wildly rosy projections; using CBO stats would make these figure look much uglier. Keep in mind that Obama has already raised taxes on Americans by nearly $2 trillion during his presidency, including a $600 billion hike targeting "the rich" in 2013. His FY 2015 plan calls for doubling the total amount of tax increases, which his administration says would bring in $1.8 trillion in revenue. Despite all of those new taxes, his budget would still never balance. Why? According to Paul Ryan's calculations, approximately half of the new proposed revenues would finance additional spending, rather than deficit reduction. The American public strongly supports a balanced budget. With Medicare and Social Security slouching towards insolvency and racking up enormous unpaid-for promises, this budget offers absolutely nothing in the way of solutions to these very real problems. This, sadly, shouldn't come as a surprise. This president's fiscal recklessness and partisan cynicism is has been a calling card of his administration. The Democrat-led Senate will not offer a budget resolution this year, a dereliction of duty that became commonplace throughout Obama's first term. The Republican-held House of Representatives has done its job year in, and year out. The GOP's last budget offered real solutions to head off the entitlement catastrophe, didn't raise taxes on anyone, and achieved balance within ten years. Whether House Republicans will follow Democrats' lead by punting on an exploitable election-year budget this year remains to be seen. A spokesman for Paul Ryan sent me the following statement: "We don't have any announcements to make at this time. It is Chairman Ryan's intent to again put forward a balanced budget." Hmmm.
Parting thought: What might vulnerable Democrats have to say about the president's extreme tax-and-spend plans? Might we be headed for another Obama oh-fer?
UPDATE - An important catch by The Hill. Obama's budget allocates $5.5 billion for Obamacare 'bailouts' for health insurers.
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