The House and Senate budget committees would go about writing their own budgets, which, after all, is Congress’ constitutional prerogative, using the president’s submission, if he was lucky, as a starting point.
The reduced standing of the budget in the Washington calendar was underscored by President Barack Obama’s decision to announce his $3.8 trillion budget plan at a suburban community college — the symbolism being an $8 billion plan to increase junior colleges’ ability to train students for jobs of the future. No one was impolite enough to bring up the government’s poor track record in predicting what those jobs will be and what skills they will require.
The cost, market inefficiencies and technical obstacles indicate that some kind of job-creating bonanza out of the “green-energy revolution” may have passed us by except as a campaign rhetorical device.
The Democrat-controlled Senate under Harry Reid has not passed a budget resolution since 2009, and it’s not going to do so this year. The outlook is for Congress to do what it has been doing and thrash out 12 separate spending bills, most of them late, coming after the much-ignored Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year.
This year promises to be more of the same because Congress has mapped out a light workload for itself and lawmakers will be increasingly focused on, and distracted by, the November elections.
Obama proposes to bring the deficit down to under $1 trillion next year, primarily by a series of budgetary gimmicks. Half of those savings consist of the cuts forced on him by congressional Republicans during last year’s debt-limit deal, for example. He counts $850 billion in savings from not spending dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the course of the next 10 years — dollars that were never going to spent in the first place. Of course, he also is proposing higher taxes, which would have a suppressive effect on the economy. His budget is based on economic assumptions far sunnier than those predicted by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, for example. And most glaringly, it does nothing to address entitlement reform — a subject on which he is “all talk, no action.”
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) aptly described it on Tuesday as “a budget for failure.”
“The only thing you can do with this budget is start over. I think that it’s time that Washington does what the American people have had to do: sit around the kitchen table, prioritize spending, live within their means and budget for the future — don’t budget for failure. The president’s budget is a budget for failure,” Isakson in a speech on the Senate floor. “The American people don’t have the luxury of printing money. They have to manage their money and live within a budget. The United States government ought to do the same thing.”
You will recall that the month after his inauguration that the president pledged “to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office” and that he would not saddle our children “with a debt they cannot repay.”
But as with much about this president, those promises were nothing but empty words. A budget for failure. The American people deserve better.