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Feb. 24, 2014

Now That We've Spent Trillions, Let's Spend Some More

The Obama budget marks the end of the "era of austerity." There was austerity?

For five of the last six years, the federal budget has featured annual deficits measured in trillions of dollars, adding drastically to the nation’s already massive debt. The current problem is largely due to Barack Obama’s so-called “stimulus”, which essentially established a new, higher minimum for spending. Once that kicked in, returning to pre-stimulus spending was derided as heartless cutting. Federal spending has never been higher or more out of control.

Well, thankfully we’re done with all that, according to the reported details of Obama’s 2015 budget. We’re done with austerity. Wait … what?

That’s the word The Washington Post uses in coverage of the budget, due out March 4: “With the 2015 budget request, Obama will call for an end to the era of austerity that has dogged much of his presidency and to his efforts to find common ground with Republicans.” Apparently, the Post thinks “austerity” means the GOP’s hard-won but paltry cuts in the spending growth rate known as the sequester. The budget deficit has been “cut in half” over the last few years, though that’s a pathetically low bar – it remains higher than any deficit before Obama’s presidency. It’s at a historic high both nominally and as a percentage of GDP, and Obama has doubled the marketable debt in just six years.

As Investor’s Business Daily writes, “[E]ven with these modest declines [in annual spending], the federal government will still spend $561 billion more this year than it did in 2008. That’s a 19% increase at a time when inflation rose just 9%.” Austerity? Please.

Evidently Obama, too, thinks he’s achieved fiscal responsibility by making deficits nominally lower, meaning he’s got more money to spend. Much of his proposed spending spree is on the same old failed areas of education and job training, while his budget contains nothing on entitlement reform. In fact, The Wall Street Journal aptly notes that the proposal “will serve more as a political treatise than a fiscal blueprint.” That actually pretty well sums up the Obama presidency.

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