President Obama unveiled a budget Thursday with a 2010 price tag of $3.5 trillion financed with $1.2 trillion of new debt. For domestic agencies, that's a 9.3% spending hike over last year.
Mr. Obama and his advisers know the public won't accept gigantic governmental expansions without at least some effort to pare the waste in Washington. So they scrubbed "line by line" through this historically huge budget and identified $16.7 billion of budget savings. This is less than a penny, about 0.47 cents, of savings out of every dollar Uncle Sam will spend this year. And these aren't real savings that will reduce debt, because Congress has already fixed the budget totals. Thus, each dollar saved from the African Development Foundation gets reallocated to some other foreign aid program.
To be fair, most of the 121 program "terminations, reductions and savings" that the President recommends make good sense, and we wish Congress godspeed in eliminating them. By all means have done with the Denali Job Training program (savings of $3 million) and USDA Public Broadcasting Grants ($5 million), and payments to high-income farmers ($58 million).
But Mr. Obama's war on government waste looks like a war on paper clips. Three-quarters of the cuts come from the national defense budget, not domestic agencies. Of the 10-year savings of $71 billion in entitlement programs -- now with a mind-numbing $62.9 trillion unfunded liability over the long-term -- one-third of the cutbacks aren't cuts at all. They are tax increases, mostly on the oil and gas industry.
One cut gives the word "savings" new meaning. The Obama budget will "save" taxpayers $290 million a year by increasing the IRS enforcement agency budget by $890 million. "Targeted enforcement resources more than pay for themselves," says the budget, in the first case of dynamic scoring by the Democrats since the Kennedy Administration.
Mr. Obama has scoffed at critics who complain these savings are inconsequential. "I guess that's considered trivial," he explained. "Outside of Washington [$17 billion] is still considered a lot of money." Yes, Mr. Obama himself signed a budget bill with 9,000 earmarks costing more than $13 billion and then justified the expenditure by declaring these levels of waste minor in the grand scheme of things.
We now live in a time when tens of billions of dollars has become a blip or rounding error in the federal budget. The Administration has said it's time to take action in reducing America's "$12 trillion American Express bill." We agree, but at this pace, with $16.7 billion of savings a year and even assuming no new debt, it will take centuries to pay off Uncle Sam's credit card.
It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses
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