The Post reports on the release of President Obama’s budget: “President Obama unveiled a 10-year budget blueprint Wednesday that calls for nearly $250 billion in new spending on jobs, public works and expanded pre-school education and nearly $800 billion in new taxes, including an extra 94 cents a pack on cigarettes.” The president also ”seeks $50 billion in new cash for roads and public works, $1 billion for 15 new institutes to promote innovation in manufacturing and $77 billion to make free, public pre-school available to 4-year-olds nationwide.” In other words, he raises taxes to increase spending.
On entitlements, he puts in writing his meager suggestions. From The Post’s story:
As he has in the past, Obama proposes to slice $400 billion from federal health programs, primarily Medicare, with the bulk of the cuts falling on drug companies and other providers. But Medicare beneficiaries would also take a hit, through higher premiums for couples making more than $170,000 a year and inducements for low-income recipients to use more generic drugs.
And for the first time, Obama formally proposes to slow the growth in Social Security benefits by applying a less-generous measure of inflation to programs throughout the federal government. The change would trim cost-of-living increases by roughly 0.3 percent a year, saving the government about $130 billion over the next decade.
The cuts to providers are phony, as Congress inevitably rides to the rescue with measures such as the “doc fix” so that medical providers will still take patients. So the only real savings here are $130 billion over a decade. We are more than $16 trillion in debt. Under Obama’s budget it would go to more than $25 trillion.
Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) tried to be positive in a written statement that read, in part:
“While the president has backtracked on some of his entitlement reforms that were in conversations that we had a year and a half ago, he does deserve some credit for some incremental entitlement reforms that he has outlined in his budget. But I would hope that he would not hold hostage these modest reforms for his demand for bigger tax hikes. Listen, why don’t we do what we can agree to do? Why don’t we find the common ground that we do have and move on that?
The president got his tax hikes in January, we don’t need to be raising taxes on the American people. So I’m hopeful in the coming weeks we’ll have an opportunity, through the budget process, to come to some agreement.”
Other Republicans were somewhere between amused and horrified. Ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) put out his own summary pointing out the president’s budget never balances and has a net deficit reduction of a measly $119 billion over ten years while racking up $8.2 trillion in new debt. He goes after the claim that this is a “balanced” approach: “President Obama’s budget increases taxes by $1.1 trillion— on top of $1 trillion in taxes from Obamacare and more than $600 billion from the president’s recent tax hike.”He declares, “This is not merely reckless; it is unthinkable.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also slammed the budget as ”a blueprint for a recession.” In a written statement, Rubio pointed out, “While the President’s budget attempts to address some of the defense cuts imposed by sequestration, I am concerned that it does nothing to reverse the damaging impact that cuts have already had on our military readiness. America is becoming less capable of projecting power and deterring conflict wherever it arises. For example, despite almost daily evidence of the increasing threat to the United States posed by rogue states with ballistic missiles, the president’s budget cuts spending on missile defense.”
The president’s budget is disingenuous, tossing out a crumb on entitlements. Considering the state of our economy and the extent of our debt, it ludicrous that he managed to propose more spending than the widely derided Senate Democratic budget.
I find it highly unlikely that there will be a grand bargain. It’s doubtful that there will be a unified budget at all considering how different are the two parties’ approaches. Creative lawmakers might think of smaller trades (e.g. chained CPI for closing a few corporate welfare giveaways). Beyond that, however, there does not seem to be much the two sides have in common that could form the basis of a significant agreement.