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LAMBRO: Spending’s just another word for nothing left to lose
Obama’s easy leap from billions to trillions
Question of the Day
The federal government has grown obscenely fat over the years, and under President Obama, it’s gotten much fatter, eating into our economy and the very foundations that made America great.
It has outgrown our incomes and now threatens us with suffocating debt, costly regulations, punishing mandates, and a punitive tax code that has invaded every nook and cranny of our daily lives.
You don’t hear much about this growing crisis; certainly not in the national news media, which never saw a federal domestic program they didn’t like. Even less is said about it in Congress, which enacts our laws, mandates our taxes and passes every budget.
Certainly not a breath of complaint comes from Mr. Obama, who rose to power on a lengthy list of big-spending plans. Have you ever read a quote from the president complaining that government has grown too big, too costly and too wasteful, and must be cut down to a more affordable size?
Mr. Obama worships at the altar of big government, except he thinks it should be a great deal larger and spend a lot more than it’s spending now. No matter to him is how much more debt he imposes on future generations or how much of our financial lifeblood he drains from a persistently weak and dangerously undernourished economy.
Exhibit A is the nearly $4 trillion budget plan that Mr. Obama sent to Congress last week for fiscal 2015. If you don’t recall hearing much about it, I’m not at all surprised.
Much, if not most, of the national news media seemed to greet his unprecedented budget wish list with a long yawn. It wasn’t the lead story in The Washington Post, where such stories are usually played. The network newscasts dismissively shoved the story deep into their broadcasts and devoted little time to it.
The budget came and went, without any deep analysis of the growing size of government and its immense cost to all Americans and businesses.
He calls for $76 billion more to launch a new nationwide program for early-childhood education. He asks for $70 billion more for highway construction. He wants to expand the earned-income tax credit for the poor by $60 billion.
That’s just for starters. He wants to spend $56 billion next year alone for what he calls the “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative.”
This new spending would also be spread around to preschool programs, more job-training agencies and a new parental-leave benefits program — among other spending, apparently aimed at the middle class.
All of this plus other spending in Mr. Obama’s budget would allegedly be paid for from a long list of additional taxes on businesses, investors and wealthier taxpayers — taxes that he’s proposed many times before but have absolutely zero chance of enactment.
It would result in a bleak budget deficit of more than a half-trillion dollars in added debt in fiscal 2015.
This follows unprecedented annual deficits of $1.5 trillion in 2009, $1.4 trillion in 2010, $1.35 trillion in 2011, $1.1 trillion in 2012, and more than $600 billion in 2013 and 2014.
To put Mr. Obama’s deficits into some perspective, President Bush’s deficit in 2007, just before the economy fell into the recession, was a tame $179 billion.
Mr. Obama, who is a master of class warfare and flimflam political rhetoric, tries to sugarcoat all this spending and added debt by saying, “Our budget is about choices. It’s about values.”
If you read the fine print in the president’s budget, you’ll see a shocking forecast that The Post says — in a massive bit of understatement — “does not paint an overly optimistic picture of economic growth.”
After trillions of dollars in new spending, the president’s budget forecasts that the economy will slowly grow by a mediocre 2.6 percent a year over the next decade.
That’s not anywhere near the economic-growth rate needed to bring the jobless rates down to normal levels, let alone keep up with worker population growth, economists say.
The American economy is certainly capable of doing a lot better than that, but only with policies and incentives to unlock trillions of dollars in investment capital that have been sitting on the sidelines since Mr. Obama took office in 2009.
In addition to sweeping tax reforms to cleanse the tax code of loopholes and exemptions, and lower the rates — for which Mr. Obama pays only lip service — we need to curb the cost of government, which is smothering our economy, killing jobs and reducing economic opportunity.
When Mr. Obama became president, the annual budget was just a little more than $3 trillion. In just his sixth year in office, he’s calling for a nearly $4 trillion budget, which will be well over that threshold by the time he leaves office in January 2017.
A federal budget that is growing by more than $1 trillion every eight years is a prescription for economic disaster that needs to be fixed, and fast.
Mr. Obama is not the least bit interested in any serious budget-cutting, unless it is whacking away at our defense needs. He’s even given up on doing anything on entitlements.
Mr. Obama prefers to use the word “investments” when he talks about his big-spending plans, but government audits and a trail of debts show he’s wasted billions in tax dollars and has created relatively few permanent, full-time jobs.
“A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon we’re talking real money” is a quip attributed to then-Sen. Everett Dirksen, Illinois Republican, in the 1960s.
Fast-forward to Mr. Obama, who’s upped the numbers to a trillion here, a trillion there, and he isn’t joking.
Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.
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