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Whacking Government Down to Size

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

WASHINGTON - President Obama's budget deficit this year will hit $1.2 trillion, following three previous monster deficits of $1.3 trillion, $1.3 trillion and $1.4 trillion.


This adds $5.2 trillion to the government's public debt which by the end of this year will total more than $16.4 trillion and climbing.

To say that the government is spending our money like there's no tomorrow is a monumental understatement. But the president rarely talks about his mounting debts, hoping the voters will forget that side of the fiscal equation when they vote in November.

He sent a $3.8 trillion smoke-and-mirrors budget up to Congress in February and this week the Senate rejected it by a bipartisan vote of 99 to 0. The nightly network news ignored the story, as they do most Obama budget stories that now threaten the nation's future solvency.

The Republican House of Representatives, believing its chief responsibility is passing an annual budget, dutifully passed one earlier this year and sent it over to the Senate where Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid declared it dead on arrival. There will be no budget this year because there is no need for one, Reid imperiously declared.

The Democratic-controlled Senate has not passed any budget in the past three years and has no plans to do so as long as they rule the roost.

But the Republicans, seeking to put Obama's party on record about his own big spending blueprint, asked for the yeas and nays Wednesday and the clerk called the roll in a democratic exercise as old as our government.


The result: not a single Democrat wanted to touch his debt- drenched budget with a 10-foot pole, let alone give it an "aye." This is a tough election year and no one was willing to take one for the team, even Democrats who are not up for re-election.

"A sitting president of the United States, seeking re-election, can't lay out a plan that will gain a single vote in the House or Senate for the financial future of America," said Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

"It speaks volumes."

This is all pretty astounding stuff that caused nary a ripple of surprise or concern here in the nation's capital.

But when House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio had the temerity to suggest that when the debt-ceiling increase comes up later this year, it will have to be accompanied by new spending cuts -- well, all hell broke loose.

Speaking for the president, who didn't want to get his hands dirty in another budget debate, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner accused Boehner of delivering an ultimatum that would trigger another credit rating crisis.

"This commitment to meet the obligations of the nation, this commitment to protect the creditworthiness of the country, is a fundamental commitment you can never call into question or violate," Geithner said.


"We hope they do it this time without the drama and the pain and the damage they caused the country last July," he added.

Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the mouthpiece of the Senate Democrats, said: "It is pretty galling for Speaker Boehner to be laying down demands for another debt ceiling agreement. The last thing the country needs is a rerun of last summer's debacle that nearly brought down our economy."

But Boehner is suggesting no such thing should happen in the course of legislating another massive increase in the Swiss cheese debt ceiling in the Age of Obama.

He's merely suggesting that if Obama wants to sharply raise the debt ceiling yet again, this time by $2 trillion or so, it should be accompanied by additional spending cuts.

Here's what Boehner actually said that newspapers like the Washington Post buried near the end of their story on Wednesday:

"Yes, allowing America to default would be irresponsible. But it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling without taking dramatic steps to reduce spending."

Sounds reasonable to me, but not to Democrat leaders like Schumer who have never seen a domestic spending increase bill they didn't like.


Neither has Obama who paid lip service Wednesday to a "serious, bipartisan approach" to reducing the budget deficit. But if you are looking for any progress on cutting spending under this president, don't hold your breath.

If you have been paying careful attention to Obama's re-election campaign speeches lately, it is clear what he is peddling: more government spending. That's what both his presidency and agenda is all about:

More heavily-subsidized student loans, more bailouts for underwater mortgages, and more money for dozens of agencies and programs under his massive health care takeover that will cost trillions of dollars in the decades to come.

Nowhere is Obama proposing to reform Medicare to keeping it from tumbling over a fiscal cliff into insolvency, or addressing Social Security's coming bankruptcy when tens of millions of baby boomers will be showing up at the sign in window within this decade.

Right now the government is spending nearly $4 trillion a year, and under the spending trajectory Obama has put us on, that will grow to more than $5 trillion well before this decade is over.

In my 1980 book, Fat City: How Washington Wastes Your Taxes, the first paragraph said this:

"Our federal government has become a bloated, extravagant, paternalistic, remote, cluttered, disorganized, inefficient, frivolous, duplicative, archaic wasteland."


The budget at that time was about $600 billion, a small fraction of what it has grown into today. The many dozens of needless, outdated and unaffordable programs I listed as ripe for the axe are still there, bigger, more costlier and more wasteful than ever.

We still await a reformer who can come into office with a plan to eliminate, downsize, consolidate, overhaul and in some cases privatize programs that government has no business doing.

It is a populist agenda that would win the support of the people whom, polls show, list the deficits and debt among their highest concerns. How about it, Mitt Romney?

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