By Teresa Welsh |
Well, the president's budget is here and it is as underwhelming as usual. That is not the official line, of course. The message the president wants you to believe is that his budget is an act of political courage that takes on entitlement reform, finishes the difficult job of debt reaction, and does both in a balanced manner.
The centerpiece of this claim is the proposal to slow Social Security spending (the so-called chained CPI proposal) and that's not nothing – the left is already up in arms over it. The only problem is that by itselfit amounts to peanuts – $250 billion compared to CBO's estimate of $7 trillion in new deficits over the next ten years – and it does not really address the fundamental solvency problems of the system itself.
As for the remainder, there are the usual rosy economic assumptions, budget gimmicks (I simply defy anyone to decipher so-called Table S-2, which is supposed to explain how the budget reduces the deficit), and tax-heavy proposals.
After all the smoke fades and the mirrors crack, what is left? An apples to apples to apples comparison shows that the House budget reduces deficits by $4.6 trillion over ten years, the Senate's by $600 billion, and the president's by $580 billion.
So the president spent his extra time finding a way to spend the $700 billion in new taxes and put off the job of repairing the nation's finances. What he didn't spend his time doing is reducing the debt.
It's hard to call that courageous.
About Douglas Holtz-Eakin President of the American Action Forum
Dean Baker Codirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research
James Capretta Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center