COMMENTARY: Obama's Irresponsible Budget
Rep. Diane Black and Rep. Tim Griffin
Another year, another budget from President Barack Obama that ignores reality.
Instead of presenting a governing document that will bring our country back to a path of fiscal solvency, Obama’s 2013 budget is nothing more than a campaign stump speech bolstered by more spending, higher taxes and no viable plan to combat our staggering national debt.
The White House says this budget will mean $4 trillion in savings over the next decade — but that’s a result of gimmicks and accounting tricks. Roughly $2 trillion have already been enacted, while Obama counts $1 trillion from money that would never be spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as savings. The White House also takes $1.2 trillion of cuts from last summer’s Budget Control Act, and replaced them with tax hikes — calling this additional savings.
At $15 trillion and rising, our nation’s debt has been called “the most predictable crisis our country has ever faced.” Yet the president tinkers on the margins with phony deficit savings while ignoring long-term debt and entitlement reforms.
Our freshman class was sent to Congress because our constituents were sick of this reckless, big-government spending. We came to restore accountability, change the way Washington does business and be honest with Americans about our nation’s future.
The House last year passed a budget that puts us back on the path to a balanced budget and greater fiscal solvency. We cut $6 trillion over 10 years, and we proposed Medicare reforms, ensuring its solvency for future generations and bending the long-term cost curve down. Meanwhile, the president’s budget again fails to address our entitlements, ignoring Medicare’s rising costs and pending bankruptcy. Instead, he’s pushing forward on his health care plan that robbed Medicare of $500 billion.
But there’s another way. House Republicans, with the push from our freshman class, are working to ensure that Washington permanently spends less through spending cuts and structural reforms. We have changed the conversation from “How much can you spend?” to “How much can you cut?”
Now, we are digging into the budgeting process — to ensure greater accountability and transparency.
Along with more than 25 freshman colleagues, we are co-sponsoring The Honest Budgeting Act of 2012, which would fundamentally reform how Washington spends taxpayer dollars. The nine-part package would remove some of the smoke-and-mirrors — like developing a new scoring process that would stop the use of timing shifts to produce phony budget savings. It would also prevent scoring budget cuts as savings — unless they produce actual cash savings.
In addition, the House Budget Committee is pressing for 10 process reforms that would give the federal budgets more authority and cut out built-in budget increases. Four have already passed the House, and the Budget Committee plans to forward the remaining bills after we roll out our own budget this spring.
Process reforms are an important part of getting our budget back on track. Since 2005, these budget tricks have cost taxpayers more than $350 billion. A more accountable process, along with realistic budgets that tackle both short- and long-term debt is exactly what this country needs to get our fiscal house in order and avoid the fate of Greece and other countries mired in debt.
The president’s budget is, unfortunately, bringing us closer, not further away from our own European-style debt crisis. The United States still has time to escape this future. But only if we address our debt now.
The longer we wait to get our spending under control, the harder this challenge becomes. Failing to budget responsibly today, sets up a diminished American future for tomorrow.
Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) is on the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) is the assistant majority whip.