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Budget madness

Posted by Richard on February 2, 2010

In the New York Post, Brian Riedl tried to put the President's breath-taking 2011 budget into perspective (bold emphasis added):

Last year, Obama swept into office promising to make tough choices — and then released a budget proposing the largest debt-and-spending spree in American history. This year, he's at it again: Over 2010-2019, his new plan boosts spending another $1.7 trillion and the deficit by $2 trillion over what he proposed last year.

In fact, this year's budget shows yearly deficits as much as 49 percent larger than even last year's bloated proposal. This spending spree will drive up both taxes and deficits to levels unseen in US history.

Nor are the Obama deficits a temporary result of the recession. Despite a modest recovery, the 2010 budget deficit will be higher than the 2009 deficit. Nearly 42 cents of each dollar Washington spends will be borrowed.

Even by 2020 — which Obama's planners assume will be a time of peace and prosperity — annual deficits would still exceed $1 trillion. By that point, nearly a fifth of all taxes would go toward paying the interest on this record debt.

The president who said "I didn't come here to pass our problems on to the next president or the next generation — I'm here to solve them" would, over the next decade, dump $75,000 per household in added debt into the laps of our children and grandchildren. 

Those disturbing budget numbers include the three-year "freeze" (starting next year) that the President bragged about as proving he's a fiscally disciplined deficit hawk — a "freeze" that will theoretically prevent a pitiful $20 billion of additional spending in a budget of nearly $4 trillion (that's $4,000 billion for the math-challenged).

I can think of only three explanations for what the Obama administration is doing to this country:

  1. The President and his top advisors are cynical manipulators, saying what they're saying to fool us, and doing what they're doing to accumulate power and wealth for themselves and their friends, while betting that the day of reckoning will fall on someone else's watch.

    If that's the case, they're like many politicians who preceded them, but on a much larger and more reckless scale. And they're much more ignorant and lacking in judgment.

  2. The President and his top advisors genuinely believe that they can improve the economy and make us all better off by spending in excess of 25% of GDP and enacting massive tax increases, especially (but not exclusively) on "the rich" — i.e., the producers, the people and businesses that create jobs and wealth.

    If that's the case, they're out of their minds. Completely delusional.

  3. The President and his top advisors are rabid leftist ideologues intent on deliberately destroying capitalism and dragging down the successful and productive regardless of the effect on the economy. They're determined to create a more egalitarian (albeit much poorer) society, no matter what the consequences.

    If that's the case, there is no dissuading them, compromising with them, or appealing to their patriotism, values, or concern for average Americans.

I'd like to believe that #1 is the case (because then they could be reasoned with, cajoled, bullied, or bribed). But their utter failure to adjust after multiple electoral warnings (including an astonishing repudiation in Massachusetts), their unwillingness to "triangulate" a la Clinton and tack to the center even a bit, their dogged determination to "double down" regarding takeovers of health care, energy, etc., and their unrelenting focus on wealth redistribution — these things make it more and more likely that, sadly, either #2 or more likely #3 is the case.

As the late Herb Stein said, "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop." This fiscal insanity clearly can't go on forever — or even, I suspect, for a decade. It will stop either because people with a modicum of good sense and concern for the nation recognize the danger and make it stop or because the dollar and the economy completely collapse.

But it seems that the former are not in charge.

That must change, and the sooner the better. This November would be good.

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