In his State of the Union address, President Obama made a big show of announcing a five-year budget freeze of non-defense discretionary spending. How is this meaningless and destructive? Let us count the ways.
First, Obama is just not that into shrinking government. When John McCain proposed exactly this kind of budget freeze during the 2008 campaign, Obama dismissed the idea out of hand, calling it a budgetary “hatchet” when what was needed was a “scalpel.”
Second, Obama spent the last two years increasing budgetary outlays by almost 25%. That means that the current baseline—at which he want to freeze—is nearly 25% higher than it was when McCain originally proposed the idea. No wonder Obama doesn’t mind suggesting a freeze.
Third, the so-called freeze he tossed out there does NOT—I repeat, does NOT—apply to the Big Budget Busters: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Nor does it include things like the interest payments on the national debt. In fact, his “freeze” only covers about 1/7th of the budget. The other 6/7ths of the budget will continue to explode out of control.
Fourth, suggesting a “freeze” at steeply elevated levels is insulting to our intelligence and destructive to our dire fiscal situation. Annual deficits are in the trillions, the national debt is about to smash through the $14.3 trillion ceiling, and we’re hurtling toward default, and Obama suggests grabbing more cookies out of the cookie jar. The jar is empty, and he’s still grasping.
Finally, the American people have spoken repeatedly and emphatically that they want the federal government not to freeze astronomical spending levels, but to cut spending—and cut it drastically. They don’t want us to be so deeply in debt that we give Greece a good laugh. What Obama showed last night is that he is fundamentally unserious about slashing spending and the size of government. As if that was ever a point of suspense.
If anyone were wondering who and what Obama would be after the 2010 election, he left no doubt last night. He blew a few kisses in the direction of so-called centrism, but when it counted—on the size, scope, and spending of government—he showed us exactly who and what he is: a big government, big spending progressive. He has not changed one iota. His circumstances have changed; he’s got to deal with a Republican House. But he has not had a change of ideological heart, nor has he moved to the much-ballyhooed center. He is a pure left-wing ideologue who has to pretend he likes Republicans and is willing to embrace some of their ideas. He hates it. He hates the conservative ideology. He hates the new GOP majority. He hates his new circumstances. And he hates having to compromise.
Which is why he did so little of it last night.
As the rubber begins to hit the road in the next few weeks over the federal budget and the debt ceiling, don’t expect him to compromise or “come together,” as Democrats have been fond of saying since they lost their majority.
Every fiber of Obama’s being will fight it. If he can only bring himself to freeze a minor amount of spending, he has shown us who he is. He is who he always was.
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