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Caution: Slow-Moving Budget Traffic

February 14, 2011

Ah, here it is.  It’s budget time.

President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.73 trillion budget Monday that holds out the prospect of eventually bringing deficits under control through spending cuts and tax increases. But the fiscal blueprint largely ignores his own deficit commission’s plea to slash huge entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Here’s a hint: when the AP calls you timid?  You’re timid.

Overall, Obama proposed trimming the deficits by $1.1 trillion over a decade although his changes would actually add to the deficits this year and next. Obama is projecting the deficit will hit an all-time high of $1.65 trillion this year and then drop sharply to $1.1 trillion in 2012, with an expected improvement in the economy and as reductions in Social Security withholding and business taxes expire.

Obama’s 2012 budget would actually add $8 billion to the projected deficit for that year because the bulk of the savings he will achieve through a freeze in many domestic programs would be devoted to increased spending in areas Obama considers priorities, such as education, clean energy and high-speed rail.

Ah, I see.  So if it looks bad next year, but looks pretty good in 2012, then maybe that helps someone’s re-election chances.  Look, I’m not the budget expert, and I don’t have a bunch of concrete suggestions (cutting the Dept’s of Education and HHS would be a good start, but unrealistic).  But we have to decide that it’s time to cut hard and learn to live in a new era of low spending.  Clean energy and high-speed rail investment is NOT cutting hard and learning to live in a new era of low spending.  If we’re going to cut, we can’t do a bunch of pet projects.  Encourage business to invest if there’s profit, and fund the work through tax breaks.  Does anyone think that doing a zero-tax plan on land acquired for new rail projects wouldn’t open up options IF the business was actually profitable?

Of the $1.1 trillion in deficit savings that Obama is projecting over the next 10 years, two-thirds would come from spending cuts including $400 billion in savings from a five-year freeze on domestic programs that account for one-tenth of the budget. The other one-third of deficit savings would come from tax increases such as limiting the tax deductions high income taxpayers, a proposal that Obama put forward last year only to have it rejected by Congress. Obama also proposes raising taxes on energy companies.

Ah, so we’re back to raising taxes on the people who actually create jobs.  And I’m still okay with eliminating tax breaks for energy companies, as long as we eliminate tax breaks for all of them.  Saying that we can’t do for oil and then doing it for wind power ends up just raising costs of energy with no discernable results on actual production.

I’m sure there will be plenty of others who will start kicking the tires today, but the plan has to be one that makes an effort to cut spending now, with a plan to cut more later.  The budgets are out of control, and putting off the pain for another few years means we won’t ever see it.

Updates:

Ah, the first good one I’ve found.  Grover Norquist: The President Stands by His Overspending

Michelle Malkin has a nice roundup, as usual.

And Reason Magazine offers the 19% Solution from Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy.

Ed Morrisey: “In other words, we’re not going back to 2008 budgetary levels, but instead going back to somewhere between 2009 and 2010. These are basically symbolic cuts rather than any sea change in Beltway business.”

Ed also has a new column out today at The Week that details this as a boldness deficit.

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