Obama's Out-of-the-Mainstream Budget

Posted: Apr 10, 2013 3:05 PM

As you read through Kevin and Ed Morrissey's write-ups on the president's FY 2014 budget proposal, consider this: Obama's new plan is only a smidgen better than Senate Democrats' risible offering last month.  It's a tepid improvement because the new tax hikes "only" amount to $1.1 trillion, rather than $1.5 trillion, and because it includes a handful of modest entitlement reforms -- which, unfortunately, the White House is holding hostage to the tax hikes.  The new tax increases would be piled atop all the Obamacare taxes and the fiscal cliff deal's $600 billion hike on "the rich."  In other ways, the president's new plan is worse than Harry Reid's.  It somehow spends more than Senate Democrats' blueprint over the next few years, and when the sequester elimination and other gimmicks are factored in, the total amount of theoretical deficit reduction over ten years is less than $120 billion.  By comparison, the House Republican budget would slice deficits by $4.6 trillion over the same period.  In short, despite the addition of a handful of good ideas on entitlement changes and after a delay of nine weeks, President Obama has put forward yet another unserious budget.  His ideas aren't only bad economics, they're extreme politics.  Here are a few stats about the new plan -- via a joint report from House and Senate budget committee Republicans -- coupled with some relevant public opinion polling:

(1) Obama's budget never balances at any point, now or in the near or distant future.  According to a recent poll, 85 percent of the American people said the federal government should be required to balance its budget.  This is a bipartisan sentiment.  The GOP budget balances within ten years.

(2) The Obama plan barely reduces deficits at all (on paper), and actually increases them in the short term.  Under this proposal, the US national debt would top $25 trillion by decade's end, adding $8.2 trillion in new debt along the way.  The public overwhelmingly demands deficit reduction; this budget does not deliver.

(3) If enacted, this budget's $1.1 trillion tax increase would bring the president's tax hike haul to $2.7 trillion, factoring in Obamacare and the fiscal cliff deal.  The American people have had enough of tax increases.  As Kevin notes, the Obama document proposes a heavily regressive cigarette tax on the poor to fund a universal pre-K program of historically dubious value.

(4) Despite near-universal support (88 percent) for spending cuts, Obama's budget increases spending significantly.  Over a ten year window, it spends more than the already-unsustainable current path...by hundreds of billions of dollars -- basically matching the rate of Senate Democrats' accelerated spending.  The Ryan budget calls for $41 trillion in spending over ten years.  The current trajectory calls for $46 trillion.  Obama's plan wants to spend $46.5 trillion over that time horizon.  This includes more than $200 billion in new spending over the next two years alone, wiping out the scheduled sequester reductions, and then some.  When push comes to shove, there are zero genuine deficit reductions in this budget, due to nearly $1 trillion in additional spending.  There are only higher taxes to (partially) fund ever-ballooning Washington spending.

(5) There are potentially exploitable entitlement reform elements within this budget, but as I wrote last week, Republicans should resist that temptation.  In fact, they should support and applaud these narrow efforts, especially as the Left throws head-in-the-sand hissy fits about them.

UPDATE - A friendly reminder that quibbling over targeted tax hikes and the sequester is all pretty much academic in light of our larger fiscal reality.