This morning, Pres. Barack Obama dropped off his budget request for the coming fiscal year, a plan that the administration claims will spend $3.8 trillion in 2013 and increase the federal debt by $1 trillion in the next decade.
On a mid-day conference call with reporters, the two leading congressional Republicans on budget matters—House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)—claimed Obama’s fiscal plan actually creates more than $11 trillion in new debt and will lead to a total debt by 2022 of almost $26 trillion.
At a press conference held later in the afternoon, Sessions stood with Senate Budget Committee Republicans and proclaimed the President’s budget to be “debt on arrival” in the upper chamber of Congress and recalled recent testimony before the Senate Budget Committee that present U.S. government fiscal policy is putting the nation on a similar path as crisis-stricken Greece.
During the earlier conference call with press, Ryan and Sessions accused the President of using tricks and gimmickry to hide spending increases, ballooning deficits and skyrocketing debt, a charge from which Obama’s own aides would have a hard time defending him.
Only last month, The New Yorker produced an article offering evidence of Obama’s willingness to get fast and loose with the numbers when preparing his 2010 budget request, a memorandum circulated among Obama and senior aides:
In the December 20th memo, they resorted to gimmickry. …
On disaster relief, for example, he had estimated that the government would need twenty billion dollars a year, a figure based on the statistical likelihood of major disasters requiring federal aid. … They proposed “$5 billion per year for disaster costs.” Obama drew another check mark.
The White House could also save billions by fiddling with the way it presented savings from Obama’s health-care-reform bill. Check.
Sessions sees the 2013 budget as a continuation of the pattern, a game of accounting hide-and-seek with potentially disastrous outcomes.
“This budget is exceedingly deceptive and goes beyond anything we’ve seen before,” Sessions told reporters during this afternoon’s call.
According to an analysis prepared by the Senate Budget Committee Republican staff, the difference between the President’s numbers and reality stems from a dishonest projection of savings from pulling the U.S. military out of Afghanistan and taking credit for savings already required by law, a smokescreen Republicans say hides a new surge in federal spending behind an illusion of deficit reduction.
“This budget increases spending and increases taxes significantly—it is a tax and spend budget,” said Sessions. “This administration is on an unsustainable debt course.”
“The most predictable crisis facing our country is a debt crisis, and again this President has ducked the crisis,” Ryan said.
“This is not a fiscal plan to save America—it is a political plan for the President’s re-election,” the House Budget Committee chair explained, although the budget summary supplied by Ryan’s and Sessions’ committees may lead some to think that Republicans see this newest fiscal diversion as a potential opportunity to scold Democrats for failing to reform key entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. From the summary:
By failing to put forward long-overdue reforms, his budget allows Social Security to fall into bankruptcy (imposing an across-the-board 23 percent cut on seniors) and gives unaccountable government bureaucrats control over cutting Medicare in ways that would result in denied care for seniors. No credible action is taken to lift the crushing burden of debt. This President’s empty promises are quickly becoming broken promises for millions of Americans.
Nested within the White House spin about its new spending package is a nugget of truth, an admission by the administration that its own adjustment for an additional $1 trillion in projected debt by 2022 is based on a sagging economic outlook.
The juxtaposition of less-than-rosy economic figures and the President’s message of economic recovery has already produced exquisite moments of Orwellian double-speak, such as appeared in today’s Washington Post:
Administration officials said about half the increase is due to policy changes, with the other half driven by gloomier economic projections that tend to depress tax collections, increase government spending and drive deficits up. …
“The economy is growing stronger, the economy is speeding up,” [Obama] said.
[photo credit: cdrummbks]