Pursuing a path of deficit reduction and government reform, President Obama will tonight in his State of the Union address call for a ban on earmarks and he will propose a five year budget freeze on non-security related discretionary spending, ABC News has learned.
The president will propose some new spending in certain areas that address the speech’s theme of “How We Win the Future”: innovation, education and infrastructure. But those increases will be proposed within the context of a proposed partial budget freeze.
The FY 2011 budget was $3.8 trillion; $1.415 trillion of which was discretionary spending. The president's proposal would save, according to estmates, roughly $400 billion.
If a partial freeze of discretionary spending sounds strangely familiar, that's because it's almost exactly what the president proposed last year:
Last year President Obama proposed a three-year hard freeze on non-security discretionary spending, which White House officials said would save $250 billion over the next decade. (Non-discretionary spending includes items such as Social Security and Medicare).
President Obama has been in office for more than two years. During the 2008 campaign, he promised to comb through the federal budget "line by line" to eliminate wasteful spending. He also derided John McCain's proposed -- ahem -- non-defense discretionary spending freeze, arguing that a "scalpel" mentality would be required to skillfully trim spending. McCain's approach, he said, would amount to a maladroit hatchet job on the federal budget.
Now, facing a national debt rocketing through its Congress-imposed ceiling, and with trillion-dollar annual deficits stretching endlessly toward the fiscal horizon, the president is breaking out a miniature hatchet. Moving swiftly and boldly, the president will urge Congress to...freeze (not cut) a relatively small portion of his gargantuan $3.8 Trillion 2011 budget. Oh, and he'll say some nice things about Republican efforts to eliminate earmarks, which Democrats have dismissed as statistically insignificant spending reductions for months.
As for confronting those massive, unsustainable entitlement programs and their tens of trillions in unfunded liabilities....shhhhhhh.