The President spent his weekly address on the upcoming budget submission, and on the federal deficit. He, like the Republicans in the House, has chosen to emphasize reductions or freezes in spending on the so called discretionary portion of the budget, which constitutes a very small piece of the overall budget. While we have not seen his submission yet we can assume, based on today’s message, that he will not venture into the only areas where you can really make appreciable headway on the deficit, namely defense spending and entitlements. The President makes no reference to the deficit commission, and like the House Republicans, spins a budgetary tale that would have us reducing the deficit by $400 billion over a decade. That figure is as laughable as the Republican effort.
The President did say something that I agree with, which is that we need to continue to make needed investments in certain areas. But his policies, which are Republican lite, focus all of the deficit cutting effort into exactly the areas where we may need some additional spending. On top of that there is no realistic hope of actually making a dent in the deficit by cutting only in those areas, and you allow the Republicans to claim to be driving spending reductions that are real, but ineffectual in cutting the deficit. It is politically difficult, but the President must lead on this issue, and lay the groundwork for sane fiscal management that does not restrict cuts to the 12% of the budget that is the current target.