Fiscal Policy: Short of its accounting gimmicks, the president’s budget isn’t a “balanced” plan to get the debt crisis under control. It’s a monument to fiscal irresponsibility.
With much fanfare and a lot of media hype, President Obama unveiled his latest budget plan — two months late. An IBD review of Obama’s budget finds that, among other things, it:
• Boosts spending and deficits over the next two years. Obama’s own budget numbers show that he wants to hike spending over the next two years by $247 billion compared with the “baseline,” which even after his proposed new tax hikes would mean $157 billion in additional red ink.
Obama claims he’ll get tough on spending and deficits later, but every budget expert knows boosting spending today only makes it harder to cut later.
• Vastly exaggerates spending cuts. The press has widely reported that Obama’s budget would cut spending a total of $1.2 trillion over the next decade. But Obama’s own budget shows that he actually cuts spending a mere $186 billion. (The relevant tables can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2014/assets/tables.pdf on Pages 187-190.)
Obama inflates his claimed savings by first canceling the automatic sequester spending cuts he previously signed into law, then reclaiming them as new savings, and by adding in cuts in interest payments on the debt.
• Relies almost entirely on tax hikes. Obama’s budget shows his plan would increase revenues by $1.14 trillion over the next decade. That means his budget proposes $6 in new taxes for every $1 in spending cuts.
• Cuts the deficit less than claimed. “My budget will reduce our deficits by nearly another $2 trillion,” Obama said Wednesday. But his budget shows total deficit reduction over the next decade would be just $1.4 trillion. Plus, deficits start rising again after 2018.
• Creates a new entitlement without a reliable means to pay for it. Obama claims he can finance a new $76 billion “preschool for all” program by raising tobacco taxes again. But after an initial spike, tobacco tax revenues will start trending downward year after year as more people quit smoking, while the costs of this new program will keep climbing.
The last time Obama hiked tobacco taxes — to pay for an expansion of Medicaid — revenues came in $2.2 billion less than expected.
• Boosts taxes on the middle class. Obama proposes to change the government’s “consumer price index” in a way that will lower the official inflation rate. He’s selling it as a way to cut Social Security annual “cost of living” adjustments, which are based on the CPI.
But because his “chained CPI” would also apply to annual tax bracket adjustments, it will end up hiking taxes by $124 billion — mainly on the middle class — over the next decade through bracket creep, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
In his remarks Wednesday after releasing his 65-day-overdue budget, Obama claimed: “The numbers work. There’s not a lot of smoke and mirrors in here.”
Fact is, if it weren’t for smoke and mirrors, Obama would have no budget plan at all.