What's the Big Idea?: Obama's Budget Disregards Lessons of Debt-Ceiling Debate

Article excerpt

Byline: Patrick Louis Knudsen, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

In his first budget following last year's debt-ceiling clash, President Obama has either forgotten or ignored the point of that entire confrontation: that runaway federal spending threatens to bury the country in debt and must be reversed.

Instead, when it comes to higher spending, the president who insists We Can't Wait really can't. He opens the spigot immediately, before the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1. His budget calls for more spending on roads and bridges, school refurbishing and teacher pay - all starting in the current fiscal year. In the process, he raises the 2012 deficit by $200 billion more than it would be otherwise, to $1.33 trillion - then promises deficit reduction later. The problem is that when later comes, there is always some new excuse to keep on spending.

This year's claim is that the economy, while growing, remains too weak to suffer the loss of government cash infusions. Odd, however, that the president assumes the same frail economy can handle a $1.8 trillion tax increase.

This budget reflects the president's well-known appetite for bigger government. He proposes a more than 50 percent increase in annual spending over the next decade, to $5.8 trillion in 2022. That would hold federal outlays stubbornly above 22 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), more than twice the New Deal's share of the economy in its peak years. In constant dollars, spending is more than three times the peak of World War II.

In practice, spending levels will be even higher, in part because $848 billion of the president's proposed reductions are actually phantom savings from the wind-down of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The president's fiscal amnesia also extends to another key topic of last year's debt-ceiling debate: the imperative to restructure Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the three greatest threats to the country's fiscal and economic health. …