From the Wall Street Journal editorial page, discussing the 'hard choices' Mr. Obama made in reducing spending with his proposed budget.
The White House actually touts as tight-fisted a budget proposing a record $1.645 trillion deficit for fiscal 2011, due largely to a new surge in spending to 25.3% of GDP. That's more spending than in any year since 1945. Federal debt held by the public—the kind we have to pay back—will rise to 75.1% [of GDP] in 2012, which is the highest since 1951 and more than double what it was as recently as 2007. [chart at the link]
This $3.73 trillion budget does a Cee Lo Green ("Forget You," as cleaned up for the Grammys) to the voter mandate in November to control spending. It leaves every hard decision to the new House Republican majority. And it ignores almost entirely the recommendations of Mr. Obama's own deficit commission. No wonder the commission's Democratic co-chairman, Erskine Bowles, said Monday that this budget goes "nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare." And he's an ally.
How unserious is this budget? Although the White House trumpets $2.18 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, those savings are so far off in the magical "out years" that you can barely see them from here. More than 95% of the savings would happen after Mr. Obama's first term in the White House is over, and almost two-thirds of the promised deficit reduction would arrive after 2016. Pretending to cut deficits by pushing all real cuts into the future is Budget Flimflam 101.
Mr. Obama's budget put him in the position of back-bencher, not national leader. By letting the House Republican majority make all of the hard choices on programs and entitlements he and his minions in the media will be able to demagogue the 'cuts' and cruelty of the needed spending restraint. Well, back to what worked. He cut his teeth in politics by railing against the evil George Bush administration; why not rail some more against the evil Republican budget plan?
And don't give me these meaningless ten year totals, designed simply to make the sum total sound impressive. The out-years always change. There's no obligation on future congresses and future presidents to even use those projections as guidelines. And this budget has little if any spending reductions. The tax increases ("expiration of the Bush tax cuts" in liberal-speak) Mr. Obama is counting on for 2013 will probably be just as bad an idea then and won't pass a Republican House.
He's abdicating responsibility on spending restraint because, frankly, spending restraint is hard. Better just to vote "present" and let grown-ups make the hard choices. And then denounce them.