- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 9, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama will deliver his budget to Capitol Hill Monday, one week past the statutory deadline. This will be his fourth, and possibly final, proposal for how Americans’ hard-earned money should be spent. It is a chance to show leadership on tackling the nation’s crushing $15.3 trillion debt.

The stakes couldn’t be higher in this election year. “The most important tangible things that are going to happen in Washington this year are the bookends between the president’s budget and [House Budget Committee Chairman] Paul Ryan’s budget a month later,” Sen. Jim DeMint told The Washington Times in an interview. “I think Americans are going to see the differences in our priorities, and what we’re willing to do.”

By law, the House, Senate and White House are required to produce their plan for the next fiscal year, but the Democratic-controlled Senate has flat-out refused to do so over the past three years.

Mr. Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2012 neither cut spending nor addressed necessary entitlement reforms. It would have increased the debt by $9 trillion over 10 years. The spending blueprint was such a joke that even Democrats rejected it.

“It would be good to see him propose something that gets more than zero votes in the Senate,” Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, told The Washington Times when asked what he wants to see in the White House budget. “That’s the beauty of setting expectations low, so you can always improve.”

In the summer debt-ceiling deal, House Republicans forced a $1 trillion discretionary spending cap for 2012, which Mr. Obama must adhere to in his budget. He will also need to handle the $1.2 trillion sequestration that is slated to hit at the end of this year and disproportionately affects defense. Expect Mr. Obama to resort to smoke and mirrors to meet these targets. Last year, his accounting gimmick claimed $1 trillion in deficit reduction from winding down the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, even though that money hadn’t even been approved.

Today, Social Security and Medicare drive our debt problem. Though Mr. Obama’s teleprompter acknowledges the issue, he has never sent the Hill an actual legislative proposal to do something about it. Instead, he only demonstrates an interest in coming up with new ways to spend our money - paid for by raising taxes on small businesses and investors. That’s why the deficit will, once again, be over $1 trillion this year.

Mr. DeMint wants the White House to speak honestly about the situation. “They think Americans are stupid, and we know they’re not,” said the South Carolina Republican. “Our key is to just keep trying to get the truth out among all the garbage that he throws out and the deceptive words. He uses ‘balanced approach.’ He uses ‘deficit reduction.’ The president is not willing to cut anything.”

We’re on the path to Greek-style bankruptcy, but the Oval Office occupier isn’t interested in changing course. When the massive budget book is dropped off at the Capitol next week, it would be nice if it could be put to more use than as a doorstop for congressional staffers.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

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