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Obama's Budget Seeks $2 Trillion More in Spending and Deficits Than Last Year
The Heritage Foundation ^ | February 1, 2010 | Brian M. Riedl

Posted on 02/01/2010 9:07:15 PM PST by myknowledge

Last year, President Obama swept into office on a promise to confront tough choices--and then released a budget proposing the largest debt-and-spending spree in American history. With Washington having committed itself to more government than its taxpayers could realistically afford, basic fiscal responsibility suggests that the President scale back his expensive proposals. Instead, this year's budget is even more fiscally irresponsible.

Over the 10 years in which both budgets overlap (FY 2010-2019), this year's budget would spend an additional $1.7 trillion and run up an additional $2 trillion in budget deficits (see Table 1).[1] In fact, this year's proposal shows annual budget deficits as much as 49 percent larger than last year's proposal--raising the debt by an additional 6 percent of GDP over the same period. It is a spending spree that will drive up both taxes and deficits.

Growing Debt

In addition, the President's budget would:

Before the recession, federal spending totaled $24,000 per U.S. household. President Obama would hike it to $36,000 per household by 2020--an inflation-adjusted $12,000-per-household expansion of government. Even the steep tax increases planned for all taxpayers would not finance all of this spending: The President's budget would add trillions of dollars in new debt.

After harshly criticizing President Bush for running $3.3 trillion in deficits over eight years, President Obama's budget would run $7.6 trillion in deficits over what would be his eight years in the Oval Office.[3] Moreover, President Obama would run up more debt over his eight years than all other Presidents in American history--from George Washington through George W. Bush--combined. As a result of these deficits, net interest spending would reach $840 billion in 2020.

Misdiagnosing the Problem

President Obama's misplaced budget priorities may be the result of his misdiagnosing the cause of the deficits. During his State of the Union speech, the President asserted that "by the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program." This is simply not true.

The policies mentioned by President Obama were implemented in the early 2000s. Yet even with all those policies in place, the 2007 budget deficit stood at only $162 billion. The trillion-dollar deficits did not begin until 2009 (driven by financial bailouts, stimulus, and declining revenues) as the recession hit its trough.

And the policies mentioned by the President certainly could not be responsible for most of the trillion-deficits over the next decade, given that most war spending will phased out by then and the tax cuts and Medicare drug benefit are expected to cost a combined 2 percent of GDP over the next decade--even as the baseline budget deficit rises past 8 percent of GDP.[4]

By contrast, the rising costs of Social Security, Medicare (beyond just the drug benefit), Medicaid, and net interest are responsible for nearly 5 percent in additional deficits as a share of GDP by 2020. Yet the President failed to mention this spending as driving long-term budget deficits.

Addressing Runaway Spending by Raising Taxes

Over the last 40 years, budget deficits have averaged a sustainable 2.4 percent of GDP. Under a budget baseline that assumes current policies continue, nearly 90 percent of the expanded budget deficits by 2020 would be caused by higher spending, while just over 10 percent would be caused by lower revenues--and even that assumes the extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.[5]

Yet President Obama bases nearly all of his (modest) deficit reduction on tax increases. Although no economic theory justifies raising taxes during a recession, he would impose nearly $1 trillion in tax hikes for 3.2 million upper-income families and small businesses. He would eliminate tax breaks for charitable giving and the mortgage interest deduction for millions of Americans.

President Obama has endorsed a cap-and-trade bill that would cost more than $800 billion over the next decade. He has also endorsed substantial tax hikes to finance health care reform. All told, tax increases would exceed $2 trillion, yet they are still not enough to prevent a $1 trillion annual deficit by 2020.

On the plus side, President Obama would freeze discretionary spending (outside of defense, homeland security, veterans, and international affairs spending) for three years. This is somewhat helpful. The savings would not be large--perhaps $20 billion per year--but this is the low-hanging fruit. Of course, these programs comprise only one-eighth of the budget ($420 billion), and they can still feast on their 19 percent hike over the past two years, plus nearly $300 billion in mostly unspent stimulus funds.

Gimmicks over Substance

A common game in Washington is to couple specific spending increases today with vague, generic promises of future spending cuts. This budget is no exception. The President proposes expensive new spending initiatives in health care, energy, education, and more "stimulus." Yet most of the budget savings are pure gimmicks.

Pay-as-You-Go (PAYGO). While the PAYGO concept--that Congress should offset the cost of new initiatives--sounds promising, it is riddled with loopholes and would not reduce the deficit at all. It would exempt all discretionary spending (which comprises 40 percent of the budget). It would exempt the automatic annual growth of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that threatens Washington's long-run solvency. It would exempt the endless stream of emergency "stimulus" bills. And when PAYGO is violated, the current legislation would exempt nearly all spending from being cut to offset the new expansions.

Simply put, PAYGO is practically designed to fail. In fact, Congress has already had a version of PAYGO since 2007 and has waived it repeatedly, causing the budget deficit to soar.

Deficit Reduction Commission. Instead of proposing policies to bring long-term fiscal sustainability, the President has endorsed a commission to make recommendations for reform. Although deficit commissions can be useful, one appointed by the President would suffer from three weaknesses:

    The commission's recommendations would not be guaranteed legislative "fast track" protections--or even a congressional vote at all;
    If Congress does vote on these recommendations, such a vote will likely be held after the November election with a lame duck Congress; and
    There is no indication that this commission would include any public hearings and thus be more likely to create its recommendations in a back room without public input.

Putting it all together, this commission would likely become a partisan exercise that fails to bring down deficits and instead kicks the can down the road.

Fictional $20 Billion in "Savings." The White House is advertising $20 billion in proposed spending cuts and terminations. If last year is any indication, these proposals will not save taxpayers a dime.

Last year, Congress and President Obama agreed on $6.9 billion worth of terminations and spending cuts (mostly in defense)--and then plowed 100 percent of the savings into new spending (mostly non-defense). Not a dollar went toward deficit reduction.[6] There is no reason to expect this year will be any different.

The Most Irresponsible Budget Ever?

President Obama has offered a budget that does nothing to address the nation's serious short-term and long-term fiscal problems--and indeed makes them worse. By doubling the national debt over pre-recession levels, America could head toward the tipping point when rising debt levels will become too large for global capital markets to absorb, potentially triggering a financial crisis, an interest rate spike, and gigantic tax increases.

Foreign nations financing American debt will note that President Obama's budget includes no plan for long-term fiscal sustainability. While he talks about controlling entitlement spending, his budget would do the opposite. By supporting a trillion-dollar health care expansion that is partially offset with tax increase and Medicare cuts, he is essentially taking those policies off the table for any future deficit reduction. That means higher taxes and deeper spending cuts down the road.

The President who said, "I didn't come here to pass our problems on to the next president or the next generation--I'm here to solve them"[7] would, over the next decade, pass $75,000 per household in additional debt into the laps of our children and grandchildren.

A Better Way

If President Obama is serious about reining in spending and budget deficits, he needs to propose real and specific spending cuts. This means repealing the economic stimulus and TARP, bringing Social Security and Medicare into long-term sustainability, and bringing discretionary spending back to pre-recession levels.

It also means putting the brakes on an unaffordable new health entitlement and other new spending initiatives. If the President will not legitimately restrain spending, taxpayers should prepare for historic levels of debt and devastating tax increases.

Brian M. Riedl is Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 2011budget; budget; budgetdeficit; deficit; fail; government; moredebt; obama; paygo; spending

Big spending. PAYGO. Deficit reduction commission. Bailouts.

Missing money is like water leaking from a pipe 'without your knowledge'.

It is akin to embezzlement.

1 posted on 02/01/2010 9:07:17 PM PST by myknowledge
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To: myknowledge

It’s too late to avoid a terrible wreck.

2 posted on 02/01/2010 9:09:37 PM PST by unkus
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To: myknowledge

And, the spending freeze?????

3 posted on 02/01/2010 9:11:04 PM PST by SoldierDad (Proud Papa of two new Army Brats!! Congrats to my Army son and his wife.)
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To: unkus

Make the rats vote on this p.o.s. Remind America that the rats have been in charge of the purse strings since 06. This will whip the Tea Parties into a frenzy. Time to send the lot of them out the door.

4 posted on 02/01/2010 9:12:05 PM PST by ABQHispConservative (A good Blue Dog is an unelected Blue Dog. Ditto Rino's!)
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To: myknowledge

Gee, what think ye that voted for this piece of crap?

5 posted on 02/01/2010 9:13:25 PM PST by doc1019 (To call Obama a bumbling idiot would be an insult to bumbling idiots worldwide.)
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To: SoldierDad

The spending ‘freeze’ is a mere facade.

6 posted on 02/01/2010 9:17:38 PM PST by myknowledge (F-22 Raptor: World's Largest Distributor of Sukhoi parts!)
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To: myknowledge

His intent is to destroy the US dollar.

7 posted on 02/01/2010 9:19:56 PM PST by hole_n_one
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To: myknowledge

I’d call it an out-and-out lie.

8 posted on 02/01/2010 9:24:29 PM PST by SoldierDad (Proud Papa of two new Army Brats!! Congrats to my Army son and his wife.)
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To: ABQHispConservative

Make the rats vote on this p.o.s. Remind America that the rats have been in charge of the purse strings since 06. This will whip the Tea Parties into a frenzy. Time to send the lot of them out the door.

That’s exactly right. I see no way out of all this before a whole lot of missery and suffering.

0bama and his ilk will be afraid to appear in public within a year.

9 posted on 02/01/2010 9:46:20 PM PST by unkus
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To: unkus
That’s exactly right. I see no way out of all this before a whole lot of missery and suffering. 0bama and his ilk will be afraid to appear in public within a year.

As well they should!

10 posted on 02/01/2010 10:03:27 PM PST by JDoutrider
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: myknowledge

12 posted on 02/02/2010 1:03:07 AM PST by Cobra64
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To: unkus

This spending is criminal and insane. It’s a deliberate attempt to crash America. The enemy is in the gates folks and it is time to fight these monsters tooth and nail! Extreme damage has already been done and there is little time to correct our course. If we don’t it’s over, America is toast!

13 posted on 02/02/2010 3:14:40 AM PST by timetostand (Ya say ya wanna revolution -- OK!)
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To: myknowledge
The right tic on the top graph tells it all.....

.....To the left you see control, doing (mostly) the right thing at the right time to keep the car on the road.
.....Wrong decisions made in this time frame can be termed as "long term errors", the effects come home to roost later.

.....We have now turned the wheel wrong way in a skid on the icy road caused by the "long term errors" of the past (mortgage crisis, etc)

.....We are headed off the cliff and there is no steering out of it now.
.....The USA has made a terrible short term decision that will have lasting effects.

.....The government CANNOT prop the economy up by taxing the economy to death, absorbing 30% in government overhead, and giving 70% back to favored parts of the economy.

14 posted on 02/02/2010 8:54:58 AM PST by SteamShovel (When hope trumps reality, there is no hope at all.)
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