Captain Balance: My Budget Won't Balance Either, Not That it Matters

Posted: Mar 13, 2013 1:28 PM

Watch as America's leading "balanced approach" fetishist casually mentions that his own budget won't balance whenever he gets around to releasing it, and that Americans shouldn't really care:


“Paul Ryan, today, put forward his budget,” says ABC, “and he says, he’s challenging you to come forward with a budget that also reaches balance. Are you going to do that?”

No,” Obama says. “My goal is not chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance.”

The president goes on to predictably dump all over Ryan's budget, which (a) exists, (b) was delivered on time, and (c) balances at some point, none of which can be said of Obama's special interpretation of "balance."  Mary Katharine Ham snarks:

It’s apparently also not the president’s goal to chase a budget that’s released on time and gets at least one vote in Congress, just for the sake of doing the barest minimum.

As for the precious new liberal talking point that there's no need to worry about balancing budgets "just for the sake of balance," Paul Ryan anticipated that spin and has been confronting it head on:

The most important question isn't how we balance the budget. It's why. A budget is a means to an end, and the end isn't a neat and tidy spreadsheet. It's the well-being of all Americans. By giving families stability and protecting them from tax hikes, our budget will promote a healthier economy and help create jobs. Most important, our budget will reignite the American Dream, the idea that anyone can make it in this country. The truth is, the nation's debt is a sign of overreach. Government is trying to do too much, and when government does too much, it doesn't do anything well. So a balanced budget is a reasonable goal, because it returns government to its proper limits and focus. By curbing government's overreach, our budget will give families the space they need to thrive. The other side will warn of a relapse into recession—just as they predicted economic disaster when the budget sequester hit. But a balanced budget will help the economy. Smaller deficits will keep interest rates low, which will help small businesses to expand and hire.

After years of profligate spending, trillion-dollar deficits and exploding debt, balancing the federal budget without resorting to severe austerity measures would send an important message to our businesses, our creditors and our taxpayers.  It would also signal a seriousness of purpose regarding getting our fiscal house in order, including stabilizing and paying down our national debt.  The American people intuitively understand the value of having a government that doesn't spend more money than it takes in, which is why they overwhelmingly support amending the Constitution to include a mechanism to enforce balanced budgeting.  House Republicans have produced their plan to get us to that point; Democrats aren't even going to try.  President Obama says the GOP budget "slashes deeply" (it increases spending every year) and would only balance "on the backs of" the poor, the elderly and, of course, disabled kids.  These accusations are as typical as they are false, but impugning opponents' motives is second nature to this president.  His dishonest scare tactics never cease.  He also claims that Ryan's math doesn't work, which is pretty rich coming from the man responsible for this.  Also, by producing a detailed balanced budget, Ryan literally proves that his math does work.  

Obama doesn't have to endorse a single idea that Republicans have introduced to achieve balance.  He is welcome to blaze a separate, more enlightened, trail in his own governing document. Show us how your definition of "balance" actually gets us to balance, Mr. President.  The truth is, he can't.  It is mathematically impossible for Democrats to balance the federal budget while maintaining the happy story in which they've invested so heavily:  The rich pay their fair share, "investments for our children" go up, the military gets trimmed back a little (but not too much), and Social Security and Medicare suffer minor tweaks, if anything at all.  It's just not possible, which is why Democrats are reduced to pretending that balanced budgets are now irrelevant.  Attention, voters -- there is only one way that Democrats' arithmetic works out, and this man can explain it to you.

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