President Obama Brags About Spending Cuts He Wants to Reverse, and Which Aren't Cuts


In a two minute TV ad released this week, Obama talks about his second term plan in four parts. Item number four, he explains, is a "a balanced plan to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. On top of the $1 trillion in spending we've already cut, I'd ask the wealthy to pay a little more. And as we end the war in Afghanistan, let's apply half the savings to pay down our debt and use the rest for some nation-building right here at home." Here's the ad (the relevant section starts around the 1:25 mark):

A couple problems with this claim. For starters, he has not actually cut spending by $1 trillion already: Instead, he agreed last summer to a debt ceiling deal that led to a "sequestration" process which lets future spending increase a little more slowly than previously planned over the next decade. But over that period, spending still goes up. McClatchy explains:

Federal spending totaled $3.6 trillion in fiscal 2011, the period that ended Sept. 30, 2011, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. This fiscal year, which ends Sunday, total spending is expected to decline to $3.56 trillion, and decline further to $3.554 trillion next year.

But those two brief cuts total just $49 billion over the two years – well short of $1 trillion. And after that, spending starts to rise again, and by 2015 should again top the 2011 figure. By the end of the 10-year period in 2021, the CBO projects federal spending of $5.5 trillion.

Here's what those supposed "cuts" actually look like, via Reason econ columnist Veronique de Rugy:

And guess what? President Obama has made it very clear that he does not want to go through with this particular future spending reduction at all. As UPI notes, the White House budget office recently released a report which "repeated the administration's insistence that President Barack Obama 'stands ready to work with Congress' to find ways to avoid sequestration."

As for his $4 trillion deficit reduction plan (fitting, given that he's run $1 trillion-plus deficits now for four years run), well, it's true that he has proposed $4 trillion worth of budget gimmicks and tax hikes. 

That $4 trillion in deficit reduction takes credit for nearly a trillion dollars in pared back war spending that is already scheduled to happen. The Medicare cuts called for by the plan are of the dubious slashing-provider-reimbursement variety that Congress has had serious trouble maintaining before and that the administration has already put the brakes on in one instance. The plan plays games with the budget baseline, counts $800 billion in debt payments as a "spending cut," and cleverly spreads is deficit reduction out over 12 years rather than the industry-standard 10 year window in order to meet the $4 trillion threshhold but make the early cuts — the ones he'd actually have to oversee as president — quite a bit smaller.

As The Washington Post's Fact Checker Glenn Kessler wrote earlier this month, "virtually no serious budget analyst" buys the president's $4 trillion deficit reduction figure, and "most of Obama's claimed deficit reduction comes from his proposed tax increases."

Budget gimmicks and tax hikes: That's Obama's version of a balanced plan.

NEXT: FL Medical Marijuana Measure Endorsed by Johnson

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. And as we end the war in Afghanistan, let's apply half the savings to pay down our debt and use the rest for some nation-building right here at home.

    Let's also set some aside for a little cognitive dissonance while we're at it.

    1. That's not coginitive dissonance; that's blatant fraud.

      Not only are going to continue sending troops to Afghanistan (which will require keeping a whole support network in other countries in place as well), but the savings are relatively miniscule.

      I understand this is a campaign commercial, but we heard this same shit about "nation-building" in 2008, and it isn't any more true now than it was then. It's a lazy appeal to 1930s/1950s public works nostalgia, despite the fact that the economic benefits from these projects are temporary and a lot more complicated to contract and implement than they were 60-80 years ago.

    2. Umm, does "nation-building right here at home" mean invading part of the U.S. under dubious circumstances, waging a half-assed counterinsurgency campaign, firing Hellfire missiles at anyone who looks suspicious, and eventually putting a corrupt and unreliable despot in control of the freshly nation-built area? This actually sounds kind of amusing.

      1. Hey, now this kind of plan is how you get your ass elected POTUS.

        But it would be so much messier (and entertaining) if we started with, say, northern Mexico. Probably the drug lords have something to shoot back with.

  2. I really really hope that Romney would starts debunking the whole "eat the rich" gimmick to show people that raising taxes on the rich isn't going to make a dent in the deficit. He could always use that brilliant Iowahawk angle..

    "Feed Your Family on $10 Billion a Day"


    1. As always, that's pretty awesome from the Iowahawk

  3. Please, God, make that awful man go away.

    1. Like to a talk show or something. Just not politics. I can't take it anymore.

      1. So essentially you want him to be Elliott Spitzer.

        1. Yes, yes, thank you for clarifying my position so forthrightly. That's exactly what I want.

          Can someone in DC send a prostitute to the White House to help accelerate this plan?

          1. Should that be a female or male prostitute? *Rimshot*

            1. Whichever gets him out faster.

              1. off, I think you meant to say.

      2. After the Presidency he's going to "retire" back to a lifelong Senate seat. You know it'll happen.

        1. No, he'll get to be head of some big lefty foundation (maybe a new one), which is a lot less work, and the pay is better.

    2. Please, God, make that awful man go away.

      Will no one rid me of this turbulent president?

      1. That's more violent than I require. Head of SAG or another sinecure is peachy.

  4. Here's a little does of reality which President Not My Fault will probably decide not to mention in his next campaign videos...

    Top Five Worst Obamacare Taxes Coming in 2013


    1. I wonder how entertaining it would be to find Obama campaign videos that say totally different thigns and intercut them.

      For instance, the one about how he's going to cut the deficit in half could be intercut with this one.

  5. lol, those bought and paid for corrupt pompous windbags.


  6. He lied. HE LIED TO US!

  7. Yes, this is the country we live in now. The one where both parties run on how their NOT GOING TO CUT SPENDING in the middle of a debt crisis.

  8. Ok, having wtach the ad... it is fucking hilarious, but not for the reasons stated.

    My paraphrasing of the ad:

    "Her'es my plan to get America back on track:
    Number one: First, I seize control of the manufacturing sector and force them to hire a million people.
    Second, we invade Europe, South America and Asia, and force them to buy our products, doubling our exports.
    Third, I cut taxes on some unionized companies that are contractually obligated to have only domestic suppliers. This will help make their products slightly less completely uncompetitive.
    Fourth, I claim credit for for the oil and shale gas boom, and use that to justify more load guarentees for wind and solar.
    Fifth, I needed a fifth point to make this a five point plan, so I'll start yet another job retraining program, cause it worked so well the previous 25 times.

  9. So, I thought "new economic patriotism" (being an excellent and concise description of Fascist economics) was the most disturbing political term I had heard recently.

    But "nation building at home"... nation building overseas (as it has been used in the past few administrations) isn't about the peace corps or infrastructure projects, it's about riling the public up against a foreign government, sending the military to depose them, and putting U.S. soldiers on the streets to quell unrest while a new government more receptive to the preferences of the sitting U.S. administration and its corporate allies is established. The most literal interpretation of "nation-building at home" is that Obama plans to overthrow Congress and the Supreme Court, institute martial law and seize control of the economic system, right?

    1. Well, I checked Wikipedia to educate myself, and while that is apparently a colloquial use of nation-building, there's a more proper one:

      Nation-building refers to the process of constructing or structuring a national identity using the power of the state. This process aims at the unification of the people within the state so that it remains politically stable and viable in the long run. Nation-building can involve the use of propaganda or major infrastructure development to foster social harmony and economic growth...

      Nation-building includes the creation of national paraphernalia such as flags, anthems, national days, national stadiums, national airlines, national languages, and national myths.[3][4] At a deeper level, national identity needed to be deliberately constructed by molding different ethnic groups into a nation, especially since in many newly established states colonial practices of divide and rule had resulted in ethnically heterogeneous populations.

      So, he could just be proposing a program of state-backed nationalist propaganda to unite all Americans in loyalty to their shitty government, which would complement Il Douchey's economic patriotism and militaristic police state.

      1. Everything guided by government
        Nothing outside of government
        Nothing above government.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.