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Obama’s ‘Mindless Austerity’

February 4, 2015 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

In announcing his $3.999 trillion budget proposal for FY 2016, President Obama said that he was putting an end to “mindless austerity” in federal spending. In response to which, one wants to ask, “What color is the sky on his planet?”

There has been no austerity, mindless or otherwise, during the Obama presidency (or, for that matter, the Bush presidency before that). Consider that federal spending under President Obama has risen from $2.9 trillion in 2008 to $3.65 trillion this year. And, while some 2009 spending, such as TARP, can fairly be blamed on his predecessor, President Obama is clearly responsible for at least $1.6 trillion in increased spending above the levels he inherited. And, now he is asking to increase the annual budget by an additional $3.11 trillion by 2025.

But what about the sequester? the president’s defenders will say. The sequester may or may not have been “mindless,” but it really wasn’t all that “austere.” Discretionary spending has plateaued because of the budget caps and the sequester, but it has not been cut significantly from 2009 levels. Of course, the GAO did report that precisely one government employee lost his job as a result of the sequester. God protect us from such austerity.

Don’t worry — he wants more deficits and more debt, but he also wants higher taxes.”

Perhaps austerity is relative. Certainly compared to the president’s proposed spending spree, recent spending hikes look positively parsimonious. President Obama is calling for a $37 billion increase in domestic discretionary spending and would match that with a $38 billion increase in discretionary defense spending. In total, discretionary appropriations would be $70 billion above sequestration levels after other minor related budget adjustments.

If we break down the president’s budget request, we see that the Department of Housing and Urban Development would receive an 18 percent increase in spending compared to this year. The Departments of Commerce and Labor are in line for 11 percent hikes, while Health and Human Services will get 9 percent, and the Education Department, 5 percent.

The president’s commitment to increased spending is not a one-time thing, either. Over the next ten years, the president’s proposals would lead to spending that’s more than $1 trillion above the CBO baseline. And that baseline already assumes that spending will rise by $2.46 trillion from 2015 to 2025.

Under the president’s proposed budget, federal spending would increase from 20.8 percent …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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