Quote of the Day:
When President Obama signs into law the new two-year budget deal Monday, his action will bring into sharper focus a part of his legacy that he doesn’t like to talk about: He is the $20 trillion man.
Actually, because it delays further voting on budgets until after the presidential election, the budget deal is more likely to obscure the unsustainable growth of spending under President Obama.
The federal debt, as Boyer notes, stood at $10.6 trillion when President Obama was inaugurated in 2009. This new budget will allow the Treasury to borrow another $1.5 trillion by the end of President Obama's tenure, bringing the current national debt of more than $18.15 trillion to around $20 trillion.
The budget does away with sequestration, which, crude though it might have been, did limit spending and may be responsible for the economy's not being worse than it is.
The Washington Times reports:
The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated that only about half of the increased spending in the budget deal is paid for. Rather than a spending increase of $80 billion over two years, the nonprofit group said, the actual spending hike is $154 billion when interest costs and budget gimmicks are factored into the equation.
“Of this $154 billion, about $78 billion is paid for honestly” through Medicare reforms, reductions in farm subsidies, asset sales and other measures, the group said. “The remaining $56 billion of the legislation — mostly the war spending increase and interest costs — is not paid for at all.”
Former Speaker of the House John Boehner seems to have fallen on his sword and done this unpopular budget deal because doing so would give new Speaker Paul Ryan some breathing room. A budget showdown and calls for a government shutdown would be a difficult beginning for a new speakership. It also might be that having this breathing room will allow Ryan to concentrate on tax reform and other financial matters that will have an effect on public spending after President Obama has left office.
Critics of the current deal claim that cuts are merely cosmetic:
Supporters of the budget agreement point to structural reforms in entitlement programs, including a deal that will prevent a 20 percent across-the-board cut in Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for 11 million people next year.
But [Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union] said it’s not clear whether the provision represents meaningful reform or another budget gimmick.
“The infusion of cash from the retirement portion of the [Social Security] program will carry disability insurance for several years before any of the major reforms to the program fully kick in,” he said. “Lawmakers are claiming that they stopped kicking the can down the road on [Social Security Disability Insurance] when they’ve really just kicked the can into another lane of the road.”
President Obama likes to point out (and take credit) for cutting the deficit. It has fallen from $1.4 trillion in fiscal 2009, in the depths of the recession, to $439 billion in fiscal 2015. But the accumulation of $20 trillion in debt will have an enormous effect on the country and future presidents' ability to govern.