3 Reasons This Budget (and the GOP Response) Won't Win the Future
President Barack Obama's proposed budget for 2012 outlines $3.7 trillion in spending during the next fiscal year and $8 trillion in new debt over the next decade. All without even a notion of how to pay for any of it.
What could possibly go wrong? Or right?
3 Reasons Obama's Budget (and the GOP Response) Won't Fix Anything is written and produced by Meredith Bragg, Austin Bragg, and Nick Gillespie, who also hosts. Approx 2 minutes.
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This video is based on this piece for AOL News by Veronique de Rugy and Nick Gillespie, reprinted below.
Opinion: This Is No Way to Win the Future
In his State of the Union address delivered just a few weeks ago, President Barack Obama pushed the banal conceit of "winning the future." To great partisan applause, the president channeled the reality show "Survivor" (slogan: "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast") and proclaimed that the United States needs to "out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world."
With the release of his budget proposal for fiscal year 2012, we now know exactly what the president meant: We need to out-spend the world.
Sure, the United States government is already wracked with debt -- to the tune of about $9 trillion or 62 percent of gross domestic product -- and government spending is at or near post-World War II highs, about 25 percent of GDP using 2010 numbers. Obama's bold plan is to spend yet more without any ability to cover such new largess.
Far from winning the future, Obama has decided to punt on first down. Instead of dealing with federal spending that has ballooned by more than 60 percent in constant 2010 dollars over the past decade -- spending pushed by Republicans and Democrats alike -- the president has decided to stick with a status quo that is leading us to fiscal ruin.
In the broadest outlines, Obama proposes spending $3.7 trillion in 2012 (about the same as this year). Over the course of the coming decade, he claims that his spending plan would trim the deficit by about $1.1 trillion, with about two-thirds of theoretical savings coming from spending less than expected (such as a five-year freeze on non-security-related discretionary spending) and one-third from tax increases (on high-income earners).
Another way of putting this is that the president's plan for the next decade does nothing to balance spending and revenue; over 10 years, it adds about $8 trillion to the national debt.
The key reality here is that outlays keep growing from $3.5 trillion in FY 2010 to $5.7 trillion in FY 2021. If all goes according to plan, in 2021, debt held by the public will equal a whopping 77 percent of GDP. Of course, to that debt you have to add the money that the federal government has borrowed to various trust funds, like Social Security and Medicare, and also the trillions of dollars in unfunded promises made to the American people.
But there's absolutely no reason to believe that scenario. When he submitted his first budget, for fiscal year 2010 (ironically titled "A New Era of Fiscal Responsibility"), Obama promised that he would cut the deficit to $912 billion in 2011 and to $581 billion by 2012. The reality in just that short window of time is totally different.
Obama's original estimates were way off for the same reason his current scenario can't be trusted: He grounds most deficit reduction in the fantasy world of increased revenues.
Indeed, the president decrees that revenue will increase by $1.6 trillion over the next decade. Theoretically, this will come from two basic sources: ending the Bush tax rates on high-income earners and from an economy that the president believes will increase in real terms by 3.6 percent in 2012 and 4.4 percent in 2013. Those estimates are far sunnier than most private and governmental projections.
While rosy scenarios are great to project higher revenue, they are also useful on the spending side. Higher growth rates allow the president to foresee a reduction in unemployment from its current 9.3 percent to 8.6 percent next year. That means less unemployment benefits to pay out and it explains half of the projected reduction in spending from 2011 to 2012.
Yet even if the president's growth and revenues do materialize, we're still in deep trouble. We are still left with a $1.1 trillion deficit in 2012 and with a cumulative $7.2 trillion deficit over 10 years. That's $7.2 trillion that the federal government will have to borrow in the best-case scenario. And that explains why the debt held by the public is set to double in the next 10 years from $9 trillion in 2010 to over $18 trillion in 2020.
Nothing in Obama's budget addresses the nation's short- and long-term budget problems. He simply isn't serious about addressing the spending overload that is piling up debt at greater and greater velocity, and he has shown no interest in even discussing serious entitlement reform.
Sadly, there's little reason to believe that the Republican response will be any more substantive. Prior to the election, GOP leaders released their Pledge to America, which was both vague and uninspired, showing only the slimmest difference in spending than the president. Since winning a majority in the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has allowed that, as he said on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, "We're broke."
Yet neither he nor his fellow Republicans have laid out any way of addressing the shortfall, either by seriously cutting spending or by raising taxes. Instead, House Republicans continue to dilly-dally whether to cut a measly $100 billion for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.
This is no way to fix a bipartisan budget mess that was many years in the making. Worse still, it looks as if it will get much worse before either Democrats or Republicans are moved to real action.