The Obama Budget

On Feb. 14, President Obama submitted his proposed budget for the 2012 fiscal year,  which runs from October 2011 through September 2012.

As expected, the budget was almost instantly met with criticism from the Republican Caucus with claims that not enough is being done to curb government spending.

While I agree with the Republican delegation that Obama has certainly disappointed in terms of cutting spending, it is interesting that members of his own party are disappointed with the budget as well.

The way the proposed budget stands now, the U.S. government would allot for $3.7 trillion in spending.

While it is projected that the President’s proposed budget would cut spending by $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years, this is still far short of what could be done to solve America’s spending issues.

The Republicans have provided lackluster suggestions as well, and I am somewhat confused by some of their most recent actions.

I personally believe that everything should be put on the table when it comes to discussing the deficit. Every inch of government should be looked at.

I am a strong supporter of military spending and having a strong United States defense.

However, in times of fiscal restraint, when Washington should be tightening its belt, I think the defense budget should be reviewed as well.

In an interview with Brian Williams shortly after taking office as Speaker of the House, John Boehner strongly expressed to Williams that no part of this government was “sacred” and that defense and national security spending should not be exempt from budget cuts.

Fast forward a few months to last week, Boehner did not hesitate to stand before the House and fight in defense of a $450 million contract to build a new engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.

Also known as the F-35 Lightning, the Joint Strike Fighter is a collaborative project amongst American allies such as the United Kingdom and Italy, but is being constructed in the U.S.
The new engine that Boehner supported constructing would have benefited his congressional district in Ohio, a perfect example of unnecessary earmark spending, something that Boehner is supposedly opposed to.

The defeat of the $450 million spending measure was due to freshmen Republicans and Tea Party Caucus members holding to their commitment of slashing government spending at any rate.

Although this is just one instance of unnecessary spending on the Republican side of the aisle, Obama deserves a sizeable amount of blame as well for delivering a budget that fails to address serious spending issues in our country.

Perhaps the most glaring example of Obama’s lack of responsibility on addressing the deficit issue is basically ignoring the recommendations of the special debt commission that he formed.

This commission, chaired by Clinton-era chief-of-staff Erskine Bowles and former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, concluded that it would be feasible for the U.S. to reduce deficits by $4 trillion over the next 10 years.  The Obama budget only looks to take care of a quarter of that.

An even larger disappointment is Obama’s failure to address long-term deficit issues, such as Medicare and Social Security.

It is crucial for the president and Congress to address these issues.

Because entitlements constitute roughly 60 percent of government spending, it is almost impossible to have a serious debate about the deficit without addressing them.

I hope that both Republicans and Democrats realize the seriousness of the situation.

Due to actions of both the President and Congress, I am worried that this problem will only continue without a solution.  It is critical for Washington to address these concerns now, instead of years in the future.