Obama Budget A Failure Of Leadership

April 1, 2011 | Column

America is in need of real leadership to address our fiscal problems.  The Obama administration just reported that we face a record deficit this year and a growing debt that threatens to bankrupt our country.  Unfortunately, the ten year budget proposal just released by the Obama administration does not rise to the very fiscal challenge the President has identified.  As a Senate Budget Committee member, three numbers caught my attention when combing the budget:  $8.7 trillion in new spending, $1.6 trillion in new taxes and $13 trillion in new debt. 

Higher spending has been a trademark of President Obama’s first two years.  This budget proposal is more of the same and does virtually nothing to address the fact that we are mortgaging our children’s and grandchildren’s futures with our spending habits.  Total spending in this budget proposal tops out at $46 trillion, with $8.7 trillion of that being new spending. 

In addition to trillions in new spending, this budget’s big-government approach includes $1.6 trillion in new taxes.  As many Ohio workers, families, entrepreneurs and small businesses know, taxes are debilitating to job creation and hamstring investment back into Ohio.  New taxes on Ohioans in President Obama’s budget proposal include a $435 billion transportation tax hike and a whopping $919 billion income tax hike.

New taxes and new spending are not the only things this budget is proposing.  The budget calls for continual annual deficits of over $1 trillion and adds $13 trillion to our debt – doubling today’s national debt.  According to a recent survey of 47 top national economists, our massive budget deficit is the single greatest threat to our economy.

These numbers astonish me and should be downright scary to any worker, family, entrepreneur or small business owner seeking a strong, secure and prosperous future.

More spending, more borrowing and more taxes are not a prescription for economic growth.  I know these choices are hard.  I’ve had to make some of them myself.  In 2007, when I was Budget Director, we actually proposed a balanced budget over five years.  Workers, families, entrepreneurs and small businesses have to make tough choices each day when it comes to their budget.  They don’t go out and spend outside of their means, or rack up huge bills and push them down the road for another generation. 

Unfortunately, the President’s budget proposal neglected to make these hard choices.  Instead of cutting spending and living within our means, the President chose to increase it – at an unsustainable rate.  Instead of reining in the debt, this budget balloons it.  And instead of cutting taxes or restraining regulation, to create a favorable business environment conducive to job growth, the President chose to raise taxes and add regulations.

I believe we have two tools pending in the Senate and House that could help balance our budget.  The first is the legislative line-item veto.  Recently, I stood alongside Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Carper (D-DE) to introduce the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act, which would give the President legislative line-item veto authority to shine a spotlight on specific spending items that don’t make sense.

Second is the Balanced Budget Amendment.  With a record deficit again this year, I believe the time is right for a balanced budget requirement, just like 49 states have and we have in each of our families.  The amendment would bring down the nation’s skyrocketing national debt by requiring balanced budgets and prohibiting tax increases unless approved by two-thirds of the House and Senate.

$8.7 trillion in new spending, $1.6 trillion in new taxes and $13 trillion in new debt is not the path to prosperity.  It hurts jobs and the economy today and is unfair to future generations.  The Obama administration budget disregards warnings from economists and ignores demands from the public.  Challenging times call for leadership and tough choices and this budget proposal fails on both counts.  We must work together to address these problems so that the American dream does not become a fiscal nightmare.