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Obama's Budget Proposal: Punt   April 13th, 2011
More of the same, nothing new       

 
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President Obama's much-awaited deficit speech mimicked his much-awaited 2009 health care speech when he convened a joint session of Congress to listen to him say nothing new. At least this time he didn't force all of Congress to waste time listening to him.

It was, however, an insulting joke.

The setup for the joke was when the president said: "politicians are often eager to feed the impression that solving the problem is just a matter of eliminating waste and abuse."

He then went on to say, about defense cuts:

Over the last two years, Secretary Gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending. I believe we can do that again.


He also said about health care spending:

We will reduce wasteful subsidies and erroneous payments... We will work with governors of both parties to demand more efficiency and accountability from Medicaid. We will change the way we pay for health care - not by procedure or the number of days spent in a hospital, but with new incentives for doctors and hospitals to prevent injuries and improve results... saving us $500 billion by 2023.


So the punch line is that that--after mocking politicians making promises about achieving savings by reducing waste and abuse--he's expecting almost a trillion in new savings from "wasteful spending" in the defense department and inefficiencies in Medicare. Kind of sounds like Obama is a politican that is "eager to feed the impression that solving the problem just a matter of eliminating waste and abuse."

But have no fear... if the $500 billion in waste/abuse savings in Medicare don't materialize, there will be an "independent commission [with] the authority to make additional savings by further improving Medicare." Translation: If Medicare isn't improved enough now to painlessly and magically reduce the waste and abuse that charlatan politicians gratuitously speak of, in a few years there will be a commission to find more waste and abuse in Medicare. I'm so relieved.

I do think he failed to mention one other potential savings through waste and inefficiency: Billions of dollars could be saved if he stopped having major policy speeches that much of the nation wastes time listening to, only to have the president say nothing. Then again, he probably doesn't plan to stop doing that so kudos to him for not counting that in the potential savings.

And, of course, we have the standard Democrat "tax the rich" class warfare part of the plan. Despite saying on December 6th that "For the next two years, every American family will keep their tax cuts" he's now proposing tax increases via the elimination of tax deductions.

Obama also said:

If, by 2014, our debt is not projected to fall as a share of the economy - or if Congress has failed to act - my plan will require us to come together and make up the additional savings with more spending cuts and more spending reductions in the tax code. That should be an incentive for us to act boldly now, instead of kicking our problems further down the road.


In other words, "let's just fumble around for three years and see if we can get away without any painful cuts. If we can't, then we'll really get serious. For real this time. I promise. Just like I promised that every family would get to keep their tax cuts for the next two years... You can take that to the bank."

As is usually the case when he has a major, much-awaited policy speech, Obama punted. If Obama is expected to say something important, you can be pretty sure he won't.

The bottom line of Obama's "proposal" (if you can even call it that) is:
  • Defense cuts
  • Tax increases
  • Vigorous defense of the entitlement spending that's driving the deficit

In other words, nothing new. Nothing serious.


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