Kevin and Guy brought you the broad details of the president’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget earlier this week. However, a closer examination of the proposal reinforces the obvious: it is decidedly “unimpressive.” Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer elaborates:
Now the bad news. The cards laid down by the White House are quite unimpressive. The 2014 budget is tax-and-spend as usual. The actual deficit reduction over a decade is a minuscule $0.6 trillion — out of a total spending of $46.5 trillion. And every penny of this tiny reduction comes from tax hikes. Nothing from spending cuts, which all end up getting spent elsewhere.
Moreover, where’s the compromise? The Obama budget calls for not only more spending than the GOP’s, but more than the Democratic Senate’s as well. For just fiscal 2014, it even contains $160 billion more spending, and $128 billion more deficit, than if the budget — that Obama purports to be cutting — were left untouched!
What’s more, Dr. K blows the cap off the president’s much-lauded and publicized “entitlement reform” proposal:
True, President Obama has finally put on the table, in writing, an entitlement reform. This is good. But the spin, mindlessly echoed in the mainstream media, that this is some cosmic breakthrough is comical.
First, the proposal — “chained CPI,” a change in the way inflation is measured — is very small. It reduces Social Security by a quarter of a penny on the dollar — a $2,000 check reduced by a five-dollar bill.
Second, the change is merely technical. The White House itself admits that the result is simply a more accurate measure of inflation. It’s not really cutting anything. It merely eliminates an unintended overpayment.
Finally, the president made it clear that he doesn’t like this reform at all. It’s merely a gift to Republicans. This is odd. Why should a technical correction be a political favor to anyone? Is getting things right not a favor to the nation?
As I noted earlier, the president’s fiscal blueprint raises taxes, increases spending, and doesn’t make a serious effort to reform entitlements. Perfect. By contrast, the Paul Ryan budget doesn’t raise taxes, cuts the deficit, and eventually achieves balance. Is it perfect? No. But at least it addresses the major drivers of our debt in a serious and pragmatic way.
Anyhow, this much is clear: the president is uncommitted to cutting unsustainable government programs or putting America back on a path to solvency. For all his charm and charisma, he will not (indeed, cannot) address these issues during his second term. Of course, the president’s proposal wasn’t exactly shocking (I seriously doubt anyone thought he was going to confront the fiscal challenges of our time in writing, much less address them), but this should be a major wake-up call. We’re stuck with anti-growth, tax-and-spend policies for at least the next four years. Thus it goes without saying how important it is that we elect a conservative president in 2016. The hour is already getting late.