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Obama's 2012 Budget Gimmicks

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

President Obama's Fiscal Year 2012 federal budget is an example of shoddy math and non-transparent government at work. The 2012 Federal Budget fiscal shell game is as curious for what items are included as for what Team Obama chose to exclude.

The FY12 Budget, on page 129, discusses the Administration’s admirable intent to crack down on businesses that are delinquent in paying taxes. This is a good idea. Team Obama then "proposes a suite of legislative and administrative debt collection reforms that will yield more than $5 billion of additional collections over the next 10 years from individuals and businesses that have failed to pay taxes." The government proposes doing this by hiring an additional 5,100 IRS workers. Bad idea.

The FY12 budget makes little effort at transparency and does not show the long-term cost of hiring new government workers. President Obama still doesn’t seem to understand that government can’t create jobs that grow the economy. Any job that the government creates comes at the cost of increased federal, state or local spending which, ultimately, has to be paid with tax dollars or borrowed money. Second, the President's budget focuses only on the revenue he believes will be recovered by these additional IRS workers rather than the cost of the recovery.

Let me peel back the onion on how the government works, and let's also consider the cost, since the President chose not to do so. Each federal worker is hired through the civil service or through a government contractor which provides employees to the federal government. Upon hiring, these new workers require training. Support and infrastructure for these employees is quite costly as these new employees need office space, furniture, phones, laptops.

Since IRS enforcement employees are often in the field, they also require extensive help desk support, supplies, and they incur travel costs. In addition, government employment comes with a generous compensation, benefits and retirement package. The total life cycle costs of the average government worker billed to the American taxpayer is about $3,200,000.00

The approximate life cycle cost of President Obama's 5,100 new federal workers at the IRS is a whopping $16.32 billion dollars. This comes on top of the Administration's proposal of "more than $240 million for a targeted set of new, revenue-generating tax enforcement initiatives aimed at closing the tax gap" (p.129). And, as the past two years have shown, the federal government isn’t known for running programs efficiently or cheaply.

The President's Budget claims that "when fully in place by 2014, these new efforts are expected to yield about $1.3 billion a year in additional tax revenue" (p.129).

I say: "Oh frabjous day! Calloo-Callay!"

Consider: the Administration is proposing to spend almost $17billion in new costs for the American taxpayer in order to "yield" about $5 billion. If only the Obama Administration would (or could) do the math! Team Obama's inability to understand that it doesn't make sense to spend $17B in order to get $5B may be one of the reasons why the Obama Administration has bloated the budget and the deficit by over 300% in the two years they have been in office.

Furthermore, Obama's budget states that it ”includes several common sense initiatives through which Treasury can lead partner agencies to maximize collection of unpaid debt from individuals and businesses"(p.129).

Here's a proposal that costs taxpayers next to nothing: Mr. Obama, clean up your own back yard.

Federal government workers currently owe $3 billion dollars in back taxes, yet these workers continue to receive paychecks without garnishment of their wages by the federal government. These delinquent taxpayers are even eligible for salary and step increases, bonuses, paid holiday leave, paid vacation leave and promotions.

President Obama could enforce a zero-tolerance policy for tax-delinquent federal workers. This “common sense initiative” would help the Administration to meet its proposed "yield' with a bit to spare--and all at no additional cost to taxpayers.

The FY12 budget says Obama is committed to "eliminating trillions of dollars in budget gimmicks" and that Obama "made a commitment to restoring fiscal responsibility" (p. 19). Even a cursory examination of the FY12 budget shows that Team Obama seems determined to misunderstand the message sent by millions of voters last November. They indicated a desire for a more limited government, less intrusive in its reach, and less hectoring in its message.

Obama has done little other than layer one budget gimmick over another. And, while the Administration disingenuously insists that it is committed to restoring fiscal responsibility, American taxpayers can only conclude that Obama really means: not on my watch.

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