One critic of the Obama administration’s budget describes the dereliction of duty this way:
The White House’s budget for fiscal 2013 begins with a broken promise, adds some phony policy assumptions, throws in a few rosy forecasts and omits all kinds of painful decisions. Even then, the proposal would add $1 trillion more to the national debt than Obama contemplated a few months ago — and it is a non-starter on Capitol Hill, where even Senate Democrats have no plans to take it up. It is, in other words, exactly what it was supposed to be: a campaign document.
Despite its tax increases, the White House still predicts that the annual budget deficit will be $901 billion in 2013 and never fall below $575 billion in any of the next 10 years. Democrats denounced George W. Bush for allowing so much red ink, but his deficits averaged only 3.5% of GDP if you don’t count 2001 but do include the 10.1% of 2009. Mr. Obama’s deficits have averaged 9.1% of GDP if you count 2009, as you should because his $800 billion stimulus passed that February.
The political reality of budgeting is that voters should only believe what they can see, which is what politicians are proposing now. Promises of future spending cuts are a mirage. Mr. Obama needs to point to the mirage because his fiscal record is the worst in modern American history
Suffice it to say when Dana Milbank and the Wall Street editorial board agree, the administration has really blown it.
Now the administration is banking on finger-pointing and getting through the 2012 election by decrying the do-nothing Congress. But how exactly does that work when on the uber-issue, namely the nation’s fiscal future, the Obama administration doesn’t try and the Democratic-controlled Senate won’t try to attack our most pressing domestic issue?
Obama’s philosophy this year seems to be: Do nothing and just run against the GOP nominee. So Obama punts on the budget, forgoes a tax reform plan, tries to stall Israel from addressing the menace of a nuclear-armed Iran and refuses to ruffle the feathers of the environmental extremists (by delaying the XL Pipeline). Stall. Delay. Pass the buck. What are the voters supposed to think he will do once he has four more years?
Obama’s don’t-rock-the-boat approach is both cynical and delusional. The voters, he thinks, won’t notice that he stopped governing two years ago. But more important, the country’s and the world’s problems don’t take a break to line up with Obama’s reelection calendar. Our fiscal predicament grows worse (will we face yet another credit downgrade this year?), the centrifuges keep spinning in Tehran and the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high. But Obama treads water. He evades. He’s got an election to win, one in which he proposes to tell the American people he’s the one to lead the country and the free world for the next four years. He says he truly wants a second term, but you have to wonder whether he has any interest in being president.