In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama declared that “we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable.” He was right then, and unfortunately, he's still right: The budget proposal his administration is releasing today wouldn’t do much to change the facts about our country’s dismal fiscal future.
Echoing the administration’s line that “the easy cuts are behind us,” Politico’s David Rogers says Obama’s 2012 budget is “long on tough choices.” That depends on how you define “tough.” Jake Tapper of ABC News gives those alleged hard choices some context: “At no point in the president’s 10-year projection would the U.S. government spend less than it's taking in.” By the president's own definition, then, today's budget plan isn't sustainable.
Instead, the president outlines a plan that would keep the yearly deficit above $1.6 trillion this year and around $1.1 trillion the year after. The 10-year plan is to shave off about $1.1 trillion from the next decade’s total expected deficit. But in the context of a $7 trillion-plus projected deficit, this is hardly a breakthrough, or a serious fix. Last December, the president’s own fiscal commission proposed about $4 trillion in cuts, including an overhaul of Social Security. The president’s budget, by contrast, barely touches our unsustainable entitlements—and certainly doesn’t offer anything in the way of major reform.
In other words, despite the president’s recognition of the basic math underlying our country’s ongoing fiscal distress, his budget still doesn't fix the problem that we spend more than we make. So much for confronting the facts.