February 21, 2011

February 21, 2011 | Commentary on Budget and Spending, Deficits

An Analysis of Obama's Budget: DOA

President Obama’s $3.7 trillion budget for Fiscal Year 2012 was declared dead on arrival by Republicans in Congress—and with good reason.  It contains massive new spending, new taxes and more debt for our children and grandchildren.  The President failed to provide a roadmap to balance the budget and reneged on his State of the Union promise to “freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years.”

Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee predict that the President’s budget would create $8.7 trillion in new spending, $1.6 in new taxes and pile $13 trillion in additional debt onto American taxpayers.  Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said, “the President’s budget would increase spending every single year: doubling the nation’s public debt by the end of his term and tripling it by the end of the decade.”

House Republican leaders were also dismayed.  Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, said, “the American people are ready to get serious about tackling our fiscal challenges, but President Obama’s budget fails to lead.  The President’s budget punts on entitlement reform and actually makes matters worse by spending too much, taxing too much, and borrowing too much–stifling job growth today and threatening our economic future.”

The President has completely dodged the recommendations of his own debt commission to address comprehensive entitlement reform in this budget.  It contains a hidden increase in the gas tax and does nothing to reverse his big-government proposals of the last two years.  Expect House Republicans to toss aside this fatally flawed budget and forge a new approach.

Another Government Shutdown?

Democrats have deployed the “Government Shutdown Strategy” to try to make Republicans in the House back away from proposed cuts in the Continuing Resolution (CR).  The government runs out of money on March 4, so a CR has to pass before that date or all discretionary functions of the federal government will come to a halt.  Expect the rhetoric to heat up over the next two weeks.

The House has produced a plan to cut $100 billion from the President’s funding request for the remainder of this year.  “Of course, a shutdown is possible,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared last week, “because that’s what the Republicans are threatening us with on national TV.”  In short, liberals are fear-mongering to forestall any real cuts in spending.

This is a first test of bipartisanship in Congress.  The Senate will have to pass a modified version of this spending measure, and they know that House Republicans will have another say on this CR.  Democrats have a 53-to-47 majority in the Senate, but they have to reach some agreement to get over the 60-vote threshold of a potential filibuster and they must craft an agreement that will pass House muster.

If there is a complete breakdown of leadership in the Senate, a government shutdown may happen.  But it will be on the shoulders of Senate Democrats if they can’t pass a CR.

The President has threatened a veto of the CR working its way through the House..  Obama told Congress that he doesn’t “support deep cuts that will undermine or ability to out-educate, out-build and out-innovate the rest of the world.”  Evidently he wants us to out-socialize the big-government policies that have led France and Germany into a big-government spending abyss, and he’s prepared to shut down the government rather than negotiate with Republicans.

Patriot Act in Holding Pattern

Congress passed a 90-day extension of the provisions of the Patriot Act last week to gain more time to deal with competing proposals. Sen. Pat Leahy (D.-Vt.) has a proposal to extend the Patriot Act, with modifications, to 2013.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, has a proposal to extend the act permanently.  Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) has pledged to offer a number of amendments when this bill comes up later this year again.

Anti-Gun Nominee for BATF

President Obama has nominated Andrew Traver to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Second Amendment advocates are up in arms because Traver has a history of anti-gun activities.  The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to schedule a hearing, but expect fireworks when Traver testifies.  Conservatives agree that an anti-gun activist should not head a department that is supposed to be an unbiased government overseer of firearms.

Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Brian Darling Senior Fellow for Government Studies
Government Studies

First appeared in Human Events