Jane Chastain is a Southern California-based broadcaster, author and political commentator. Despite her present emphasis on politics, Jane always will be remembered as the nation's first female TV sportscaster, spending 17 years on the sports beat. Jane blogs at JaneChastain.com. She is a pilot who lives on a private runway.More ↓Less ↑
A typical text from a 20-something on the Obama budget would read, “OMG, LOL” That would, of course, assume that the sender did not come through our public school system and could do basic math.
After reviewing the high points of the president’s budget, any reasonable person would “laugh out loud.” It’s a joke! Not the kind that causes one to smile, but the “you can’t expect me to take this seriously” kind of joke.
The country is in big economic trouble, and those who are paying attention are scared spitless. We are more than $14 trillion in debt. It’s the largest in the entire world, and it is roughly 95 percent of our GDP. Last year, FY 2010, we paid $414 billion in interest on that debt, or about $1.13 billion a day. Bear in mind, current interest rates are at historic lows, but they are rising. We will soon be past the point of no return. If ever there was a time to apply the brakes on government spending, it is now. We must live within our means.
The president promised to turn in a budget with a five-year freeze in domestic discretionary spending. This comes after a two-year spending binge amounting to a 24 percent increase, if you back out the cost of the so-called stimulus, which raised the total to 84 percent. Now, he wants to freeze that increase in place. What restraint!
His other favorite one-liner designed to fool us into thinking he is being responsible is that it would bring domestic discretionary spending down to its lowest level since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. The implication is, if you liked Ike, then Obama should be your new BFF! If Obama’s budget were to freeze domestic discretionary spending for the next five years, it would be a little above 3 percent of GDP, which was about where it was when Eisenhower was president. However, since Ike was president, the big game in Congress has been to transfer programs from the discretionary to the mandatory side of the ledger, so there is really not that much left on the discretionary side.
When we think of mandatory spending, we think of behemoth programs like Social Security and Medicare. However, a mandatory program is anything Congress can put on automatic pilot. This puts it out of reach of the yearly give and take of the budget process. There are hundreds of these programs that have been transferred to the mandatory side since Ike was president, and they are all headed for the spending stratosphere.
Unfortunately, Obama is playing that game with his budget. In trying to make good on a pledge to reduce overall 2012 discretionary spending by 5 percent, he takes the liberty (Congress would have to approve) of transferring $54 billion of surface transportation spending as well as Pell grants into mandatory spending. Just a little sleight of hand!
But this is not the only budget gimmick Obama employs to try to fool us into thinking that he is taking a responsible approach to the budget. His budget plan also calls for more than $1.6 trillion in tax increases over the next 10 years, much of it on the most productive elements of our society. Make no mistake! His tax increases on businesses large and small will suppress job creation and eventually trickle down to “we the consumers.”
Yes, the president has made a few cuts from last year’s bloated budget and has turned in a new plan that reduces federal outlays by $1.1 trillion over 10 years – $400 billion from his five-year freeze on domestic discretionary spending – but hold your applause! That’s a drop in the bucket when you consider that deficit spending in FY 2011 alone is estimated to be 1.65 trillion, bringing the national debt to $15 trillion (a figure equal to the size of the entire U.S. economy).
Under Obama’s 10-year budget outline, the national debt is projected to rise to $21 trillion in five years and jump to $26.3 trillion in 2021. Believe it or not, that’s a best-case scenario since he is using economic growth levels higher than any projected by the CBO and leading economists.
Obama’s budget is a joke, a cruel joke reminiscent of the kind that was popular when Eisenhower was president.
Taxpayer to Obama: “Mr. President, why am I going around in circles over this budget?”
Obama to Taxpayer: “Shut up or I’ll nail your other foot to the floor.”