The President submitted his budget yesterday, and it has received generally negative reviews. And from a deficit reduction perspective it should be criticized. The President, in the first move in what promises to be an interesting game of budgetary chess, has essentially punted on any real change in the budget, leaving the heavy lifting to the Republicans. So it is now the move of the Republicans in the House to produce a budget that reflects what they campaigned on. I think the best quip on the Presidents submission came from Rep. Paul Ryan, who said the submission was “debt on arrival.” And Ryan issued a press release saying that the Republicans were ready to take up the fiscal challenge:
“The President’s budget spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much – stifling job growth today and leaving our children with a diminished future. In this critical test of leadership, the President has failed to tackle the urgent fiscal and economic threats before us.”
“Failing to heed the warnings of economists and the demands of the American people, the President’s budget accelerates our country down the path to bankruptcy. Far from ‘living within its means,’ the President’s budget puts the government on track to nearly double in size since the day he took office – a direct result of his party’s reckless spending spree. His budget destroys jobs by imposing a $1.6 trillion tax hike, adding $13 trillion to the national debt and fueling uncertainty in the private sector.
“We cannot tax, spend and borrow our way to prosperity. Where the President has fallen short, Republicans will work to chart a new course – advancing a path to prosperity by cutting spending, keeping taxes low, reforming government, and rising to meet the challenges of our time.”
Dana Milbank over at the Washington Post said the obvious; The President is kicking the can down the road. Milbank writes that since the saying of the day is that we can no longer kick the can down the road the President is trying to tiptoe by the can, and hope nobody notices.
Obama’s budget proposal is a remarkably weak and timid document. He proposes to cut only $1.1 trillion from federal deficits over the next decade – a pittance when you consider that the deficit this year alone is in the neighborhood of $1.5 trillion. The president makes no serious attempt at cutting entitlement programs that threaten to drive the government into insolvency.
The only defense to offer at this point is that the President is willing to go further, but will try to flush out the Republicans politically. And from a political standpoint I understand the strategy, but I think that the public is willing to respect leadership that gives real perspectives and lets the chips fall where they may. I think he needs to lead, and let the politics take care of themselves. Chris Christie in New Jersey, and Andrew Cuomo in New York have shown that making tough choices does not mean political oblivion, and in fact can mean political gain. The games are just beginning.