While running for president, Barack Obama promised the American voters that he would change the way things were done in Washington.
Well, he's kept his promise—though not perhaps in the way many people who voted for him had in mind. Under his leadership, the federal budget has exploded dramatically, leading to record deficits and bringing total federal indebtedness to a level equal to just about one year's U.S. gross domestic product.
Under his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2013, released earlier this week, the trends not only continue, they accelerate. Over the 10 year period FY 2012 and FY 2022, Obama's budget proposes an astounding $8.011 trillion in new deficit spending, with the deficit for FY 2013 being the fourth trillion-dollar deficit in a row. And that's only the beginning.
According to an analysis prepared by the House Republican Study Committee, if Obama's budget for FY 2013 is adopted as written, the federal budget "would never balance again."
"The president's budget does not just propose large deficits in the short-term, but they actually start increasing again from 2018 to 2022. Beyond that point, the president's proposal to keep entitlement spending unreformed would ensure that the long-term budget outlook is worse," the committee said.
The Obama budget would also increase the total tax burden from 15.4 percent of U.S. GDP in 2011 to 20.11 percent of U.S. GDP by 2022. Over the 10-year period contemplated by the budget document, revenues would average almost 19 percent of U.S. GDP which, the committee said, is notably above the 40-year average of 18 percent despite the large deficits.
Obama's budget furthers the orgy of spending upon which he embarked as soon as he came into office, with proposed federal spending at 24.3 percent of GDP, almost a full percentage point higher than the previous peacetime record of 23.5 percent set in 1983. And that's on top of a 27.5 percent hike in federal spending since FY 2008, from $2.98 trillion to $3.82 trillion.
It's doubtful the president's budget will be enacted as is. Under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's leadership, the U.S. Senate has gone more than 1,000 days without approving a budget—probably because Reid does not want to force his fellow Democrats to go on record in favor of all the spending Obama wants. Nevertheless, with numbers like these it is no wonder that the American electorate is up in arms about federal spending. The budget is simply too big to keep pace with the ability of a weak economy to generate the revenues needed to support it. What is needed now, more than anything, is a focus on economic growth, not Washington subsidies. It's true that Obama has committed to "spread the wealth around" but, in order for him to be able to do that, the wealth has to exist. Instead, the president's budget seems to be a commitment to wiping it out altogether.
- Check out a roundup of editorial cartoons on the economy.
- Check out the U.S. News Economic Intelligence blog.
- Read the U.S. News debate: Does the United States Need a Balanced Budget Amendment?