BO's $4 trillion budget debacle
By Mark Alexander
Credit where credit is due -- however deceitfully earned...
Barack Obama, whose policies and whose Democratic Party suffered a humiliating defeat a few months ago, has now effectively flanked Republican majorities in the legislative branch with his own legislative agenda, as outlined in his $3.99 trillion 2016 budget.
Let's just call it an even $4 trillion, since we all know that the ".99" is just an absurd retail marketing gimmick. "My fellow Americans, all this can be yours for less than $4 trillion! And if you act now, we'll throw in a set of steak knives!"
After his ethereal State of the Union remarks a few weeks ago, and with his approval rating rising slightly due to lower oil prices, which temporarily boosted GDP, Obama set off cross-country to promote his agenda under the fraudulent title "Middle-Class Economics," which should be more fittingly named "Middle-Crush Economics.
Let's put Obama's statist plunder into perspective.
If middle-class families set their annual household budgets the way Obama sets his, they would find themselves before a bankruptcy judge and their credit ruined for life. Fact is, Obama is banking his budget on the backs of every American household, and the burden is growing heavier by the minute.
Our national debt is now $18.1 trillion -- almost $8 trillion of that added by Obama in just the last six years. That's more than $145,000 per American household. For the record, $18 trillion in $100 bills would weigh in at almost 200,000 tons, about twice the weight of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Measured another way, those same $100 bills would stack more than 12,000 miles high.
Obama's "middle-class economy" debt load on the American people is hard to fathom. And, as noted by Senate Budget Committee member Bob Corker (R-TN), "Debt and deficits hurt the standard of living of Americans by slowing economic growth."
Indeed, the weak fourth-quarter GDP figures, which conveniently arrived after Obama's self-congratulatory SOTU, were about half the growth rate of the third quarter -- down to 2.6% in a seasonal quarter that should have been much better. As Joe Biden reminded us, "To state the obvious, the past six years have been really, really hard for this country." (gaffe [gaf] n. 1 an utterance in which a member of the Obama administration inadvertently tells the truth.)
A new bipartisan Congressional Budget Office assessment, "The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2015 to 2025," warns the current debt growth rate is unsustainable, and notes "such large and growing federal debt would have serious negative consequences, including increasing federal spending for interest payments; restraining economic growth in the long term; giving policymakers less flexibility to respond to unexpected challenges; and eventually heightening the risk of a fiscal crisis."
For the record, regarding "fiscal crisis," we've been there, done that twice since 1929. But maintaining political constituencies trumps the threat of a cascading economic collapse -- at least until the bread and soup lines form. And the failure of financial institutions -- and economies -- can occur very quickly, as was the case with the narrowly averted collapse in 2008.
Obama remains the undisputed master of deception when maintaining political constituencies, proposing his brazen budget as if the good times were rolling. His exemplar deceptio mirrors those methods perfected by Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, who would blush at the success Obama has enjoyed in utilizing his template for propagating misinformation.
On top of his administration's countless below-the-radar regulations, which are now costing consumers in all income brackets hundreds of billions of dollars, Obama's $4,000,000,000,000 budget is replete with more spending, taxes and debt.
He is baiting Republicans with $561 billion in defense spending to secure billions in additional spending for his neo "Great Society" welfare and entitlement programs, coupled with the tax increases he's demanding on capital gains, corporations and death.
Note the irony that defense spending, which is authorized by our Constitution, is classified as "discretionary spending," while government benefits and entitlements, which make up about $2.5 trillion of this behemoth and are not authorized by our Constitution, are classified as "mandatory spending." Through the looking glass we go!
The leftist site Politico lauded Obama's budget, noting he "is lurching to the left. ... Remember those budget caps [he] put in place in 2011? Obama wants to blast right through them. It's a progressive's dream version of Obama, untethered from earlier centrist leanings. The direction Obama is steering the party lines up much more closely with the politics of Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts." Ah, yes, Elizabeth Warren, who most of the pundits have discounted as a 2016 political contender -- but not yours truly.
Demonstrating his mastery of deceptive diction, Obama justified his budget increases, claiming, "I want to work with Congress to replace mindless austerity with smart investments. We can do so in a way that is fiscally responsible. [Insert uncontrollable laughter here] I'm not going to accept a budget that locks in sequestration going forward. It would be bad for our security and bad for our growth. I will not accept a budget that severs the vital link between our national security and our economic security. [Insert more uncontrollable laughter here] Part of the reason why we grew faster last year was [that] we were no longer being burdened by mindless across-the-board cuts."
For the record, those "mindless cuts" were due to the 2011 Budget Control Act known as "sequestration," which Obama proposed. He used it then as an end-run around Republicans in budget negotiations, then he made the cuts "mindless" in implementation. And as for all the Democrat remonstrations that the sequester would be "the end of the world," according to a GAO report, only one federal employee lost a job due to sequestration.
Arguing for his so-called "Blueprint for Middle-Class Economics" in an editorial published in HuffPo (the only online repository that would publish such rubbish), Obama suggested, "America's resurgence is real. With a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production, we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth."
Huh? Perhaps on "Planet Obama."
He insisted, "Now we have to choose what we want that future to look like."
Yes, as Thomas Jefferson wrote, "We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude."
Obama asks, "Will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and rising chances for everyone who makes the effort?"
Good question, but, according to analysis by the liberal Tax Policy Center, Obama's proposals will "have very little net impact on middle-income households."
In other words, his "middle-class" rhetoric is nothing more than, well, rhetoric. Not only will his proposals do little for middle-income earners in the near term, but they will crush them in the long term.
As for all his tax and spending increases, Obama claims, "I'm proposing we make the kinds of investments we need ... these common-sense investments ... invest in key national priorities ... investments with equal dollar increases ... investments in key areas..."
Again, he insists, "We can afford to make these investments while remaining fiscally responsible."
Setting aside for the moment "what we can afford" given $18 trillion in national debt, understand that Obama's statist definition of "investment" is state-controlled wealth redistribution and spending, the antithesis of the free enterprise notion of investment that would truly ensure "fiscal responsibility."
According to economic analyst Jeffrey Dorfman, if you assume GDP is growing "at about 3%, the economy is adding about $530 billion to GDP annually. ... [Obama's $340 billion non-discretionary spending consumes] 65% of the new money available in the economy ... Think of that as if the entire economy is facing a marginal tax rate of 67 percent." Bottom line: Our Constitution stipulates that only Congress has the authority to set the federal budget. So, now we'll see if the "new and improved" Republican majorities will act according to their constitutional oaths. We'll see whether they're prepared to battle or to bow out.
Here, deep in grassroots America far outside the Beltway, I would suggest the Republican majorities should completely ignore Obama's budget and take control of the debate -- setting their own budget and making a strong fiscal and economic case for it.
On a positive note, last Tuesday the House voted 239-186 on a measure to gut ObamaCare noting many reasons, not the least of which is the devastating financial impact the so-called "Affordable Care Act" is having on the "middle-class economy," as outlined by my colleagues at The Heritage Foundation here and here.
Additionally, Ted Cruz (R-TX) has enlisted 44 co-sponsors to back his Senate bill to repeal ObamaCare, but that will be subject to a Democrat filibuster which would require Republican leaders to force a budget "reconciliation" in order to get the bill to Obama's desk, where he would ceremonially veto it.
But Obama's refusal to accept that his signature "health care" legislation is a colossal failure should not deter Congress from forcing his hand to veto. Likewise, Congress should be undeterred in forcing his hand on his ruinous budget proposals.
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.