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Issue Analysis

    President Obama's Budget Pledges . . . More of the Same

    02/15/2011

    President Obama apparently got a message in November: the American people didn’t like the way he was spending their money. But he interpreted it to mean that he could spend more of their money as long as he did it in a different way.

    The budget numbers are in and are widely available to anyone concerned about the growth of government spending; this year, the Department of Health and Human Services (which administers Medicaid and Medicare) will grow 3.1 percent this year to $1.11 trillion; as the Boomer generation retires, Social Security (its own administration) will grow 8.5% to $808 billion (that’s about the same size as the failed “stimulus” package of 2008); but, worst of all, the cost for interest on public debt will become the only federal expenditure over $200 billion to increase by over 10% (14.5% this year). As for spending cuts, reforming Pell Grants may be necessary, but it’s hardly all that is needed to balance the federal budget.

    The voters who turned back the White House and Congress’s radical agenda in November have a right to expect a government which is more fiscally disciplined than it was for the past two years, but the President has offered up a budget which is more of the same.  Republicans can demonstrate fiscal responsibility by taking Secretary of Defense Robert Gates up on his proposals to cut defense spending by nearly $100 billion. But if cuts begin elsewhere, they have to end with—or make their way through—entitlement reform.

    Not all entitlement reform is “wasteful spending,” especially for people who benefit from the entitlements which will need to be reformed, but the budget crisis the country faces requires that we cut more than that which is commonly referred to as “wasteful spending.” The American people need a president who treats them like citizens, not customers.