This week the President unveiled his budget for 2013, the fourth of his presidency. Shortly after taking office, the President promised "to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of [his] first term in office." The first budget he proposed actually projected that he would fulfill this promise; unfortunately, despite the fact that the President's promise to cut the deficit in half can still be found on the White House Website, his final 3 budgets have completely abandoned this idea. After his 2012 budget failed to gain a single vote when it was brought before the Senate last year, you would think that the President would realize that what the American people want is a budget that deals honestly and openly with the serious debt crisis our nation is facing. But, rather than provide a path toward fiscal responsibility, the President released a budget that the New York Times called “more a platform for the president’s re-election campaign than a legislative proposal.” Bloomberg labeled the President’s budget “a wasted opportunity,” and the Associated Press pointed out that the president’s budget takes “a pass on reining in government growth.”
The President claims that policy changes in his 2013 budget proposal will result in $4 trillion in savings over the next decade. Unfortunately for the American people, these supposed savings are in reality accounting gimmicks and budget tricks. First, the President claims $2 trillion in savings from reductions in discretionary spending over the next decade. These savings, however, do not come from the President’s budget. They are the result of congressional actions taken last year to set spending caps for future budgets. In fact, these savings were passed by Congress in spite of, not because of, the President. Next, the President claims to save the American taxpayers $850 billion by winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This claim doesn’t even pass the smell test. Calling this savings is like saying that a college student saves thousands of dollars in tuition when they graduate. In reality this is just money that no longer needs to be spent. To make this accounting gimmick worse, the Administration then uses these “savings” to offset unfunded programs.
Next, the President claims $400 billion in savings by refusing to prevent massive cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates to physicians. These cuts would be detrimental to seniors’ health care, and Congress is working right now to prevent them from occurring. Yet, despite calling on Congress to prevent these cuts, the President is somehow counting the savings that would result by forcing our senior citizens to shoulder the burden of a massive increase in the cost of a visit to their physician. Then, the President claims to save $290 billion through supposed interest savings that would result from all of these previous “savings.” So, when all the smoke and mirrors disappear, the President is left with a 10 year budget that spends $47 trillion, adds almost $11 trillion to the national debt, raises taxes on the American people by $1.9 trillion and saves just $410 billion.
The President’s budget is an abdication of responsibility and an irresponsible attempt to simply ignore the budgetary reality we are facing. Under the policies proposed by the President in this budget, the Federal budget would never balance again, and the amount of new debt accrued from 2013-2022 would be equal to the total amount of debt that President Obama inherited when he took office.
We can’t afford to bury our heads in the sand and wait for the coming debt storm to simply pass us by. Over the coming weeks, Republicans in the House will offer serious proposals to tackle our debt and restore our nation to a path of fiscal responsibility that removes economic uncertainty both today and in the future. It’s time for the President to put his reelection campaign aside and join us to cut spending, balance the budget and grow our economy.