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Another Irresponsible Obama Budget

February 15, 2016
Weekly Columns

In what has become an annual event, last week President Obama released a budget proposal that has no basis in reality. This year, he again ignored our nation’s crushing burden of debt and the outdated entitlement programs that are driving it and instead offered a proposal that raises taxes on job creators and proposes billions of dollars of additional spending for new government programs. After seven long years of suffering under President Obama’s misguided policies, it should come as no surprise that his latest and last budget proposal reflects how out of touch he still is with economic reality. 

Even though the nation’s staggering $19 trillion of debt continues to climb at an alarming rate, the president ignored and missed yet another opportunity this year to recommend serious reforms to balance the budget and pay the debt down. Instead of choosing to lead America on a path of fiscal responsibility, the president again offered a wish list that taxes too much, spends too much and never ever, ever balances.                                

While any president’s budget is not binding on its own, the document still reveals a lot about that president’s priorities. And this year’s budget reveals and confirms what many have long known about President Obama. He is deeply committed to bigger government, higher taxes, radical policies and has absolutely no concern whatsoever with rising deficits and crippling debt. Predictably, this year’s budget is bursting with ill-conceived policies that would add nearly $9.3 trillion to the nation’s already-heavy burden of debt over the next 10 years. 

For example, as our nation’s once-thriving energy industry continues to struggle under the weight of sub-$30-a-barrel oil, I am especially alarmed that the president’s budget seeks to make matters worse by placing a $10 tax on every barrel of crude. Oklahomans are all too aware of the harsh reality of a struggling oil industry. The president’s  proposed tax would certainly lead to many more valuable jobs lost, and it would also have the perverse effect of directly impacting families and households across the entire country by increasing the cost of everything that every American purchases.

Finally, while the president has proposed several worthy goals such as curing cancer and combating opioid abuse, his methods to pay for these goals are simply unacceptable budget gimmicks that rely on increases to mandatory spending. As I’ve noted before, mandatory spending (also called entitlement spending) is the biggest and fastest growing portion of federal spending and, therefore, the single largest contributor to our deficits and our mounting debt. That the president suggests we add even more to this spending – regardless of the worthiness of the policies it is intended to advance – is simply irresponsible.

Getting our debt under control and achieving a balanced budget should be among the highest priorities of both the Congress as well as the president. Congress has done its part, cutting spending and proposing responsible budgets with real entitlement reform. With less than a year remaining in office, it’s unfortunate that President Obama would rather waste time fighting for policies that will never become law instead of working with Congress to address the drivers of our debt.  

It’s clear to me that this president is more interested in leaving the difficult decisions for changing the debt trajectory to the next president than actually solving the problem. That is unfortunate and irresponsible. Leaders lead. Because of President Obama’s failure to do so, the next president will face a budgetary crisis of historic proportions.