President Obama’s Budget: A Month Late and Trillions Dollars Short of Fiscal Responsibility
March 4, 2014
TPA Responds to the White House FY 2015 Budget Release:
Today, President Obama unveiled his Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget. The FY 2015 budget is a month late (which has become a tradition for this President) and trillions of dollars short of fiscal responsibility. The President continued his preference for spending more with a budget proposal that spends $3.9 trillion, which is an increase from the $3.8 trillion the federal government is planning to spend in FY 2014. The White House budget aims to confiscate more money from taxpayers and small business owners to fund a laundry list of big government programs disguised as “stimulus” and “infrastructure.” These new spending priorities are sure to be filled with waste and inefficiency, much like many of the programs funded by the 2009 stimulus package.
Defense: Even though the $496 billion requested is the same as this year, the Pentagon has been shifting money around to avoid much of the spending caps implemented by Congress. The Pentagon has been able to put items that should have been in the base budget into the Overseas Contingency Operations “slush fund.” Now, with the $26 billion “what if” list the Pentagon is attempting to do it again. TPA was disappointed that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter would see almost no reduction in spending at all. This is alarming considering the constant problems the program has faced in terms of costs, schedule, and testing. Also disappointing is the $90 million for the M1A2 Abrams Tank that the Army doesn’t even want, which TPA has pointed out on many occasions.
Taxes: This budget misses the mark on taxes. First, it calls for increased taxes on tobacco, an oft-used approach by this President that will disproportionally harm the middle class and have no significant impact on the long-term fiscal realities facing the nation. Corporate Tax Reform continues to be something the President favors and TPA applauds his support as noted in this proposal. However, much of the hundreds of billions the President aims to generate are through tax increases and are simply a means to spend more in other areas, which essentially ignore the problems the economy continues to face when it comes to spending.
Spending: TPA is pleased that the President wants to offer spending cuts, but the President uses smoke and mirrors to try and fool taxpayers about spending cuts. The President’s spending cuts just shift money from one project to another and they do nothing to address the long-term. The Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Budget Office, and members of Congress, most notably Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), have offered specific spending cuts that could save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. The President is missing a huge opportunity to finally rein in spending.
Even though this is only the opening salvo in the budget war for this year, it is instructive to see that the President clearly doesn’t recognize the fiscal reality of a $17 trillion debt and an economy that remains stagnant. There is no way for taxpayers and entrepreneurs to succeed unless the White House gets serious on spending restraint and tax reform. This budget does neither and with no meaningful offers to cut spending, overhaul the tax code, or reform entitlements, this budget is simply a way to double down on the failed policies of big government spending that have been a hallmark of the Obama Presidency. There should be a clear path to fiscal responsibility through meaningful spending reductions and tax reform. That is clearly not the approach from this White House based on what we have seen today.
TPA will continue to analyze more individual items in the coming weeks.