“Look how much spending I froze!”
Barack Obama apparently suffers from his own brand of ADD — Addiction-to-Deficit Disorder — as demonstrated by his recently unveiled proposal to freeze one tiny portion of government spending at current levels for three years, which by the way wouldn’t begin until 2011. He highlighted the proposal again Wednesday night in his State of the Union address.
At first blush, the idea sounds like something conservatives would cheer. In fact, other than Democrats, who isn’t for stopping the spending juggernaut? But as a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) quipped, “Given Washington Democrats’ unprecedented spending binge, this is like announcing you’re going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest.”
A closer look at this diet reveals that the freeze would apply to a budget that enjoyed a 20 percent increase in 2009, courtesy of the Democrats’ largesse. Under the guise of “tacking to the center” in the wake of his trip to the woodshed in the Massachusetts election, the president’s proposal would actually lock in a sizable spending increase during those years, as opposed to a real freeze. (No wonder Republicans burst out laughing during the SOTU.)
Furthermore, while the plan claims savings of roughly $250 billion over the next decade, the freeze applies only to non-defense-related discretionary spending, or roughly 17 percent of the total federal budget. Even at that, however, the cap is by no means across the board. Education and job creation initiatives would receive increases, because everyone knows government creates jobs, and education … well, as long as we keep throwing more money at it, it’ll get better, right?
Other items exempted from the proposal are even more revealing. This includes entitlement programs (about two-thirds of the federal budget), virtually all legislation — past or future — with the term “stimulus” in it, including the unspent cash from the latest stimulus legislation, and the yet-another-stimulus-package proposal from The Chosen One’s SOTU. Health care spending would also get a pass.
Naturally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D, Lala-land) rushed to offer up defense spending as a sacrificial lamb to further the cause (so much for the “non-defense-related” caveat). Pelosi’s suggestion was immediately lauded by Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-Il and a host of other despots.
For perspective, we would add that these hypothetical savings pale in comparison to the $1.4 trillion actual deficit in 2009 alone, and that the Congressional Budget Office — a virtual shill for Democrats, no less — forecast just this week that the deficit for 2010 likely will be at least as large. All told, in fact, the government will hit its current $12.4 trillion authorized debt ceiling by the end of February.
So given the president’s call for fiscal “responsibility,” one might assume Democrats would jump on the bandwagon. Not so. Every Senate Democrat — every Democrat — voted Thursday to raise the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion. That’s $45,000 of debt for every American man, woman and child. But as Obama so succinctly (and ridiculously) put it in the SOTU, “That’s how budgeting works.”
(On a related note, Democrats needed 60 votes to pass this increase and Sen. Paul Kirk (D-MA) provided one of those votes, despite Senate rules and Massachusetts law saying his term expired last Tuesday. So why did he vote?)
Columnist Charles Krauthammer wryly captured the true significance of the disingenuous spending freeze subterfuge, noting that it’s “a $15 billion reduction in a year, 2011, in which the CBO has just announced we are going to have a deficit of $1.35 trillion — it’s a rounding error. … It’s not a hatchet. It’s not a scalpel. It’s a Q-tip. It’s a fraud.” As is any claim of fiscal responsibility originating near the Potomac.