As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Tag Archives: deficit

Utterly Irresponsible

The most astonishing thing about the budget President Obama submitted today is that he is not even pretending to try to do anything about the debt and the deficit. NOT EVEN FAKING IT. Okay, he’s faking it a bit. He’s pretending the deficit won’t go up. So let’s give credit where credit is due!

And credit, so to speak, is the name of the game here. You see, this is the first president I remember who proposes budgets and doesn’t even offer a path toward eliminating the deficit so our kids don’t have to finance our indulgence.

The deficit, Obama asserts this year, is okay. It’s all cool. What’s a mere deficit in comparison with the grand plans of great men? We’ll just run a deficit that rises in nominal terms but stays at about 2.5 percent of the economy, the “norm” over the last few decades.

EXCEPT THE NORM HAS RESULTED IN $18 TRILLION OF DEBT AND INCLUDES YEARS DURING WHICH THE DEFICIT SOARED OVER $1 TRILLION.

That’s okay? What type of ethic is it that says to go and be profligate and don’t worry about piling on debt?

Obama Oval child
Obama consulting with his chief budget advisor

The deficit will decline to $474 billion under the president’s plan, and then rise to nearly $700 billion over ten years, while staying at roughly the same high level as a percentage of GDP, while total debt also rises nominally but stays at about the same percentage of the economy.

But look at the assumptions. Obama thinks that somehow the economy will grow at 3 percent this year and in 2016, which it hasn’t done so far during his  term. He assumes unemployment declines to 4.8 percent. That we will allow soaring Medicare and Social Security costs to squeeze out other “investments” and that the economy can withstand the $1.44 trillion in new taxes Obama has planned for us.

But here’s the real kicker: The forecast assumes no future recessions of any significance and of course doesn’t work in a major terrorist attack or a new war, any of which would send the deficit soaring again. That is, we’re planning to be in bad shape, and when the inevitable catastrophe occurs, we’ll be in really bad shape.

This is irresponsible. It’s juvenile. And it’s dangerous. How can the leaders of a great nation make such plans?

Obama would do nothing – absolutely nothing – about the future entitlement meltdown. Leave it for someone else. This would be way to hard for someone who can barely lift the phone to call Capitol Hill.

If you want a sense of this – according to the budget documents produced by the OMB, outlays in the federal budget for Social Security and Medicare are expected to double over 11 years from $1.35 trillion in 2014 to $2.6 trillion in 2025. Where’s that money coming from? Current payroll taxes will pay for only a portion of it, and an increasingly small portion. You didn’t think Social Security and Medicare were self-financing, did you?

By delaying decisions on what to do about entitlements, Obama is making future solutions far more onerous. By failing to rein in the deficit, the president is putting America out on a tenuous, brittle limb.

But who cares? As long as we have free birth control and free community college, all is well in the land.

Obama Pays Dinner Tab for a Dozen Republicans

Hoping to begin rebuilding bridges frayed by years of neglect and abuse, President Obama last night bought dinner for a dozen Republican Senators as the two sides broke bread to try to begin reaching an accommodation on the budget and other issues.

Senators are not used to skimping on meals, and the dinner must have set the president – who paid out of his own pocket – back a pretty penny. Or more like some Susan Anthony dollars.

An earlier attempt at peace, this one involving only apples.
An earlier attempt at peace, this one involving only apples.

The outing at Washington’s posh Jefferson Hotel could easily have cost a grand or two, especially if it was held at the Jefferson’s exquisite Plume restaurant, which has a prix fixe menu costing $85, before you start including booze, which senators like to include.

Lawmakers emerged from the powwow describing it as a positive meeting and a friendly gathering that focused on the possibility of eventually reaching a deal on the budget and deficit reduction. But the meeting does not appear to have been any kind of a negotiating session – rather more of a way to build trust and relationships that have been absent for much of Obama’s term.

The meeting is part of Obama’s sudden new outreach to Republicans. He invited the senators to the dinner, and he has also asked House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) to have lunch with him at the White House today. The committee’s ranking member, Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, will also join them.

Emerging from the gathering, Sen. John McCain of Arizona gave reporters the thumbs up, as did Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who was close to Obama when the two served together in the Senate. No word on whether they were referencing the food or the meeting.

I’m assuming the latter.

Also dining Wednesday evening, according to the White House, were Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, and Dan Coats of Indiana.

Thank you for reading White House Dossier! Today I’m reminding everyone that you may also subscribe. Just enter your email address here. You’ll receive the free OBAMAGRAM newsletter and updates on breaking White House news. No spam, and we won’t share your email address.

Obama Must be President of Some Other Country

The deficit threatens to rock our world. A crisis of confidence in America’s creditworthiness is possible at any time, precipitating a true financial collapse.

And yet Obama is running around the country spending full weeks promoting policies like the Buffett Rule that will do absolutely nothing to help this country, but which may aid his political prospects. It’s a complete dereliction of duty.

I have a piece running in Politico today that discusses Obama’s dereliction of duty. Here’s a quote from it.

President Barack Obama seems to be governing in some parallel universe — where the United States exists without mortal dangers threatening its economy and the nation’s most pressing exigency is the reelection of its president.

But when Obama swore to defend the Constitution, and therefore the nation, he did it in the dimension where the rest of us exist, where the economy appears to be headed toward its annual spring stall and an endless series of massive budget deficits threatens to unleash a financial crisis at any time.

While big issues simmer untended, our leader is focused like a laser beam on trivia that benefit him politically but do the country little or no good.

I hope you’ll take a look.

All Roads Lead to Rome . . . and Then Athens

We are acting like ancient Rome. And soon we will be modern Greece.

I thought you might appreciate this video as President Obama embarks on Day Five of his campaign for lower student loan rates, which will cost the government $6 billion a year.

Mitt Romney has agreed to it, and the congressional Republicans appear to be falling into line.

Is there any politician out there, who is in a position of leadership, with the guts to tell us we can’t have everything we want?

HELLO? IS ANYBODY HOME? THE HOUSE IS BURNING DOWN! HELLO?

Hiring Suddenly Declines

The economy may be stalling, and let’s think about why.

But first, here’s what’s happening. The nation added 120,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department reported this morning, some 80,000 less than economists expected. The number is probably a little less than needed to keep pace with population growth, which means that effectively jobs were lost.

The unemployment rate went down from 8.3 percent to 8.2 percent, but that was because fewer people are looking for work.

The jobs added is a severe drop off from the 200,000 – plus jobs that had been added every month since November, which signals that something’s wrong, and that some of the recent gains were due to the Christmas shopping help and mild weather in January that helped home builders.

And let’s be clear, in a recovery, 200,000 jobs a month ain’t great in the first place, and it won’t get us back to previous employment levels for many years.

Some of the jobs drop off is undoubtedly due to the problems in Europe and the high price of gas. But gas prices have been high for months, even when job growth was more robust.

But I’ll tell you one thing that did change in the last couple of months. The White House put out a budget that made clear Obama has no intention  of seriously reigning in spending by leading on entitlement reform.

Trillions of dollars would be added to the debt AS A MATTER OF POLICY. Republicans have put forward a budget that does make a more serious stab at reducing spending, and they have been called un-American by the president of the United States for doing it.

The greatest peril to this nation, right up there with a catastrophic terrorist attack, is the debt. Americans know this. They are gravely concerned by it, and it affects their general outlook, and the performance of the economy.

They also know they have a president who is more concerned with solar panels than the debt. That’s what’s in his bones.

The White House remains in fantasyland. From Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Kreuger:

There is more work to be done, but today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue to make smart investments that strengthen our economy and lay a foundation for long-term middle class job growth so we can continue to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began at the end of 2007.

With the deficit out of control, the White House continues to talk about spending – in case you missed it, that’s what “smart investments” are.

But the administration’s smart investments have not prompted a serious recovery. Unless Obama has an abrupt come-to-Jesus on the deficit, this economy may never take off.

Obama’s Deficit Attention Disorder

The Obama White House has gravely miscalculated. It got the garage in order when the living room needed straightening up. And guests are on the way.

That is, it solved health care – I’m sorry, it “addressed” health care – but decided the deficit could wait.

The White House does not seem to understand the visceral unhappiness people feel at having their future and that of their children and grandchildren mortgaged away, in part to foreigners, some of whom don’t like us. The deficit as much as anything will drive people to the polls.

Take a look at this item from the influential news aggregation website, Tea Party Brief. The site just released its “manifesto.” In a sign of the passion surrounding the deficit, the manifesto centers on government’s failure to keep its books.

From the manifesto, which is nonpartisan and addressed to the “U.S. government”:

For the past few years, we watched what happens when debts aren’t paid, and we know from painful experience how devastating the effects are on our communities and families. It does not matter if you are from the left or right, the result is the same. The people will suffer and our government will drive away in a Wall Street limo.

And so, we the American people are giving our contract to you, President Obama and every member of Congress from both parties, so you know where we stand . . .

We promise, with all our hearts and collective souls, that if you don’t do all in your power to stop the politics and save our national credit rating, that we will vote every single one of you out of office in the next election.

Not only conservatives are riled up by the country’s growing indebtedness. In poll after poll, the public in general rates the deficit as the second most important issue, behind unemployment and jobs.

It’s no secret George W. Bush handed Obama a large deficit. It’s a secret only to the White House that President Obama made it worse.

Obama and his aides like to throw their hands up – not in unison, though it would be interesting to see this – and proclaim that there’s little they could have done in three years about the problems Bush handed them.

One of the top items on this list is the deficit. Obama’s solution was to spend $1 trillion – and rising – on Obamacare.

He made a conscious decision, early in his presidency, to handle other things before tackling the deficit in a serious manner that would include leadership on the massive entitlement cuts that must come to close the gap. He will pay politically for his decisions – not for Bush’s

Latest Obama Deficit To Top $1 Trillion. Again.

Well, the Obama deficit reduction plan is going nearly as well as the Afganistan Retreat Strategy, with the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicting yet another deficit exceeding $1 trillion.

The White House blames Republicans for refusing to raise taxes. EXCEPT . . .  spending is at the highest level it’s been since World War II and Obama was supposed to be a post-partisan, God-like figure who could transcend politics and make Kumbaya the national anthem.

Besides, it’s no secret where the money is: entitlements. Obama has been unwilling for his entire term to do anything serious on this front.

Mr. Elmendorf warned that the primary driver of the deficit later this decade would be the cost of an aging U.S. population, particularly the rising costs of government health-care programs. For example, the CBO projected the government would spend $1.6 trillion on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in 2012, 44% of the federal budget. In 2022, the government will spend $3.0 trillion on those programs, 54% of the federal budget.

Meanwhile, spending on TARP this year will cost $23 billion – compared to $37 billion in savings last year – because the stock prices of GM and AIG, in which the government still owns stakes, have declined.

An Historic Failure of Presidential Leadership

I can hardly find the words to describe what happened at the White House today. But there are always words, and so I must find them.

In an immense and nearly unparalleled – there’s always James Buchanan – abnegation of presidential responsibility, the White House today blithely acknowledged that President Obama did nothing to broker a deal in Congress to reduce the deficit and save the American economy, and it suggested it wasn’t Obama’s responsibility to do so in the future.

The deficit reduction committee represented the best chance to achieve a deficit deal, because the next opportunity will not come before February or so, when we’re in full election mode, and because any agreement reached by the panel would have had special rules attached that would have eased its passage in Congress.

But Obama, it must be clear as the Caribbean to all, is now solely interested in gaining a cudgel with which to whack Republicans next year instead of saving the union. He would rather the panel fail so that he can blame Republicans for something about the dismal economy over which he unhappily presides.

Asked today what Obama had done to spur the committee on, White House press Secretary Jay Carney said he had done a lot. LAST SUMMER.

The President of the United States, as you noted, throughout the summer was engaged directly and personally in extensive negotiations with Congress, with the Speaker of the House, on what would have been a broad and balanced and substantial proposal to reduce our deficit and debts over the long term.

The President, at the beginning of the process, at the beginning of the super committee process, a committee established by an act of Congress, put forward a comprehensive proposal that went well beyond the $1.2 trillion mandated by that act and was a balanced approach to deficit reduction and getting our long-term debt under control. That has been available to the committee since it first started meeting, and is available today, with the waning hours left to it to act, as a road map to how you achieve the kind of balanced approach that Americans demand.

He gave them a road map? Like, a deficit reduction GPS to play with?

Carney continued:

This committee was established by an act of Congress. It was comprised of members of Congress. Instead of pointing fingers and playing the blame game, Congress should act, fulfill its responsibility.

The nation’s future is solely Congress’s responsibility? The president’s responsibility is . . . golf and campaigning?

Carney:

Now, let me just say that Congress still has it within its capacity to be responsible and act.  As you noted, the sequester doesn’t take effect for a year.  Congress could still act and has plenty of time to act.  And we call on Congress to fulfill its responsibility.

We call on Congress to fulfill its responsibility? Like a mother saying, “I call on my baby to learn to walk.”

Congress will not act, because it will be 2012, and it knows full well the president isn’t serious.

Not only the economy, Carney said, but the health of the military is the responsibility of Congress.

We made no — we made clear that the cuts in the sequester are not the best approach to achieving the kind of deficit reduction that we need, and that the defense cuts are much deeper than we think are wise, as Secretary Panetta and the President and others have made clear — which is why Congress needs to fulfill its responsibility.

And so, on to the real business at hand, bashing Republicans.

In the end, it comes down to a decision by Republicans that they are unwilling to do what the American people say they believe should be done, which is ask the very wealthiest Americans, millionaires and billionaires, to pay a little bit extra so that we can achieve the kind of deficit reduction and long-term debt control that we need. Short of that willingness, it’s hard to see how we get to an answer.

In his remarks this evening, Obama said tepidly that he would be “ready and willing to work with anybody that’s ready to engage in that effort to create a balanced plan for deficit reduction.”

What he’s saying, really, is that Republicans must first cave, and then he’ll work with them. Because otherwise, he would have done so already.

Which means the fragile economy will have to wait a year for Washington to work out an agreement on the deficit, during which time an economic collapse could come at any time.

The president of the United States has decided not fulfill his oath to “preserve, protect and defend” the nation.

Well, he promised change.

Obama Makes Last Ditch Effort to Save Deficit Talks

Yeah, well, not. Nothing on Obama’s schedule this morning suggesting that he is serious about salvaging the broken deficit committee, as you can see below. Midway through Obama’s Hawaii and Indonesia trip last week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney noted that Obama wasn’t even making calls to Capitol Hill. Because, Carney acknowledged, a successful… Continue Reading

The Big Setup

President Obama started his reelection campaign last Spring. But things will really get going next Thursday night. That’s when Obama will offer a series of small scale proposals that at best will help the economy on the margins. But they may help Obama get reelected. Here’s why. The White House itself, in a report released… Continue Reading