Spending isn’t the only thing Obama’s budget is full of

Posted on February 20, 2011


It fascinates me how the right wing so fiercely attacks Barack Obama as being a “Marxist, Commie, Leftist, Liberal” when his actions so clearly dictate that he is anything but.

Take, for example, the president’s 2012 budget proposal. A true “America-hating Liberal” would have started with a budget that presents a demand for absolutely everything to be funded by the federal government, and then the “America-loving Conservatives” would have presented their budget which demands funding for only the rich and the corporate, and a slashing of all things public and welfare-esque (which, essentially, they did). The polar partisans would initiate their battle from diametrically opposing positions and – in the sense of government cooperation – negotiate to a reasonable middle ground.

But Obama’s budget doesn’t do that. In fact, Obama’s budget is so gratuitously capitulating to the Republicans’ demands that it is almost completely right-wing partisan at the onset. And what are the Republicans doing in response?  Are they recognizing the box of glazed donuts Obama just handed them?  No, they demand crescent rolls and coffee, too.

America faces a record federal deficit and a growing debt that threatens to bankrupt our country. Unfortunately, the budget Obama delivered last week does not rise to the challenge. In fact, it cowers in the shadows. Three amounts caught my eye when I read through the budget highlights: $8.7 trillion, $1.6 trillion and $13 trillion. These three numbers are the amount of new spending, new taxes and new debt, respectively, in Obama’s fiscal courting to Congress.

Budgeting for Dummies teaches us that when you lose income, you cut spending.  Having less to spend means you spend less. Simple, right? But this is the federal government we’re talking about, and despite all my desire that we could just have Charles Grodin go into the Congressional Budget Office and show, line-by-line to Obama and Boehner exactly where the stupidity, graft, redundancy and fraud is happening in the budget (a la the movie “Dave”), that’s just not going to happen.  Federal budgeting today is a challenge of two competing shell games. The Democrats try to hide spending under one shell, while Republicans try to hide corporate welfare under another.

America is being starved of tax revenue, and the problem was just compounded by the stupefying act of extending the Bush era tax cuts which robbed the federal coffers of what would have been an additional $800 Billion.  Republicans demanded the continuation of the cuts to appease their corporate owners, and Obama continued them so maybe some of the Republicans would start liking him again.

The picture could not be more black-and-white: Tax receipts are going to plummet by 18 percent this year, the biggest single-year decline since the Great Depression. Meanwhile, the federal deficit balloons to a record $1.8 trillion. An Associated Press analysis further illustrates the recession’s impact: Individual income tax receipts are off by 22 percent from a year ago. Corporate income taxes are down 57 percent. Social Security tax receipts could drop for only the second time since 1940, and Medicare taxes are going to fall for only the third time ever.

One of the primary problems we’re facing is that our President and Congress (both sides) believe themselves to be above convention wisdom. When the clear, sensible, logical solution is “A,” they concoct a slew of stupid, transparent and politically jargon-filled reasons why we must do “B.”  And always, without exception, Option “B” always seems to somehow benefit the uber-wealthy and the executive seed, and take ever more from the workers who provide the tax dollars being squandered.

For all the bluster, posturing and faux-indignation being portrayed on the political stages both left and right, there is no escaping the painfully obvious recognition that neither party truly gives a damn about fixing the economy. If they did, neither party would maintain their desperate protection-at-all-costs of the budgets for the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Medicare/Medicaid and the Department of Energy – which account for 88 PERCENT OF THE BUDGET.  Instead, they’re niggling over real purse-killers like home heating oil subsidies for the poor, student textbook funding and which Congressman cut his staff budget by a higher percentage after already increased that budget for the past three consecutive years. They’re picking at threads on a blanket that doesn’t amount to pennies in the grand scheme of budget management.

How anyone can look at the pathetic chicanery being displayed by both Republicans and Democrats over what should be a simple mathematical equation is beyond me.

In addition to trillions in new spending, this budget’s big-government approach includes $1.6 trillion in new taxes. As many blue-collar workers, entrepreneurs, small businesses and families know, taxes are debilitating to job creation and hamstring savings and investment, not to mention simple making-ends-meet.

New taxes and new spending are not the only things this budget is proposing. We are now staring down a budget that adds $13 trillion to our debt – doubling today’s debt in the next 10 years. These numbers are staggering, and sobering, and should be just plain frightening to any worker, family, entrepreneur or small business owner who hopes for a strong, secure and prosperous future.

Anyone who’s ever balanced a checkbook knows that when you don’t have enough scratch to cover your bills, you have one of two choices:  Cut your expenses or get more income. Unfortunately, the president’s budget proposal doesn’t even attempt to make these hard choices. Instead of cutting spending, the president chose to increase it – at an unsustainable rate. Instead of reining in the debt, this budget balloons it. Instead of ending tax cuts to increase revenue, the president caved to GOP pressure and extended one of the foremost campaign positions he raised himself upon when seeking election.  That whole “tax cuts for anyone making less than $250,000 per year?”  POOF!  Like a dandelion in a hurricane.

This budget not only ignores the warnings from Obama’s own economists and flagrantly dismisses the demands of the general public, it just reeks of “business as usual” in Washington; politics for nothing other than politics’ sake.  The greater good of the American people doesn’t even enter the picture.

Challenging times call for leadership and tough choices, and this budget proposal fails on both counts. Until we see a fiscal leader who has the intestinal fortitude to stand up and say “Enough already!” and begin using simple, basic 2-plus-2=equals-4 math instead of Congressional campaign math, the debt crisis – at the federal, state, local and living-room level will not only continue, but get worse.

And playing the election-pendulum game of switching out one corrupt, effete and useless political party for the other every two years isn’t going to accomplish squat.

You can’t wave a “We’re #1” finger when your entire federal financial management is full of number two.