Obama’s Budget Philosophy: Life Is Short, Eat Dessert First

If a motto summed up the Obama administration, it might be, “Life is short. Eat dessert first.” President Obama’s policies are all about self-indulgence in the present, to be paid for with either long-run economic decline, or painful sacrifices by future generations.

His recent budget proposal, which contains a mix of real spending increases and mostly imaginary “cuts,” is a case in point. It pretends to cut spending and the deficit, but its “cuts” are slated to occur largely in the distant future (and thus may never happen), while its increases kick in almost immediately. It is so dishonest that it has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum.

As former congressional economist Chris Edwards notes, although Obama claims it cuts spending:

His new budget proposes slightly more discretionary and entitlement spending for next year than did his last budget!

  • Last year, Obama planned to spend $1.301 trillion on discretionary programs in FY2012, but now he plans to spend $1.340 trillion.
  • Last year, Obama planned to spend $2,107” billion “on entitlement programs in FY2012, but now he plans to spend $2,140” billion.

Similarly, The Wall Street Journal calls the “White House Budget” proposal “cynical and unrealistic,” since it pretends to cut spending over the long run, but openly “increases deficits above the spending baseline for the next two years.”

(Obama made the same kind of deceptive sales pitch for his $800 billion stimulus package, focusing on immediate gratification and ignoring future costs. In pushing the stimulus, he cited Congressional Budget Office claims that it would save jobs in the short run, while ignoring the CBO’s own finding that the stimulus will actually shrink the economy over the long run, by exploding the national debt and crowding out private investment. Obama also made the apocalyptic claim that the stimulus package was necessary to avert “irreversible decline,” but this claim was so incredible that it was not even peddled by his supporters in the media. The stimulus ended up destroying jobs even in the short run by wiping out jobs in the export sector, and subsidizing foreign green jobs .)

The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle, who voted for Obama in 2008, calls Obama’s budget proposal “disastrous.” She notes that his proposed budget includes phony, “sketchily outlined cuts,” and short-term patches that are “stacked to expire just after Obama (in theory) gets reelected.” Moreover, she points out that the supposedly “‘fiscally responsible’ Democrats have given us the largest peacetime deficit in history, one that keeps growing beyond all expectations.”

Her colleague Andrew Sullivan, who was Obama’s chief cheerleader in the blogosphere until now, finally admits the truth about his idol:

this president is too weak, too cautious, too beholden to politics over policy to lead. In this budget, in his refusal to do anything concrete to tackle the looming entitlement debt, in his failure to address the generational injustice, in his blithe indifference to the increasing danger of default, he has betrayed those of us who took him to be a serious president prepared to put the good of the country before his short term political interests. Like his State of the Union, this budget is good short term politics but such a massive pile of fiscal [male bovine excrement; we like to keep this a family blog if we can–ed.] it makes it perfectly clear that Obama is kicking this vital issue down the road.

To all those under 30 who worked so hard to get this man elected, know this: he just screwed you over. He thinks you’re fools. Either the US will go into default because of Obama’s cowardice, or you will be paying far far more for far far less because this president has no courage when it counts. He let you down. On the critical issue of America’s fiscal crisis, he represents no hope and no change. Just the same old Washington politics he once promised to end.

AOL News notes that  for all the talk of cuts, “President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget proposes to spend $3.48 trillion on everything except interest on the national debt. That’s a 7 percent increase over what the government spent in 2010. And keep in mind that in 2010, there was a lot of stimulus money flying out the door.”

Even The Washington Post, which endorsed Obama in 2008 and has not supported a Republican for president since 1952, said Obama’s budget was full of “gimmickry,” and called Obama the “Punter-in-Chief” for failing to address America’s looming budget problems.

Obama would increase wasteful education and transportation spending by billions more. The Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson gave a thumbs down to the Obama administration’s anachronistic focus on rail boondoggles that few people will use. The Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey debunked the bogus offsets Obama is using to pretend to pay for his budget-busting and wasteful education proposals. We earlier explained why Obama should have cut rather than increased education spending at this link.