Remember when President Obama said on April 18, 2009 “in the coming weeks, I will be announcing the elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective. In this effort, there will be no sacred cows, and no pet projects. All across America, families are making hard choices, and it’s time their government did the same.” We are still waiting for this promise to be completed Mr. President. As the federal debt is exploding to the tune of $13 trillion+, it is time to make some “hard choices” to eliminate waste, fraud abuse” and “pet projects” from the federal budget.
President Obama was dead on when he announced his intention to “streamline processes, cut costs, and find the best practices throughout the government.” Sources on the Hill complain to Red State that “this effort seems to be moving almost as quickly as the Gulf oil spill clean-up.”
The Red State Truth-O-Meter, based very loosely on the PolitiFact.com Truth-O-Meter has declared President Obama to be in breach of his promise to the American people to cut spending. He does not seem committed to cutting spending and has delegated that task to his “Bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.” This Commission is expected to propose massive new tax increased coupled with promised spending cuts. Red State declares Obama’s spending cut promise as “Pants On Fire,” because this seems to be yet another empty promise from our Wordsmith-In-Chief.
The American people agree with the President’s 2009 declaration that “we simply cannot afford to perpetuate a system in Washington where politicians and bureaucrats make decisions behind closed doors, with little accountability for the consequences; where billions are squandered on programs that have outlived their usefulness, or exist solely because of the power of a lobbyist or interest group; and where outdated technology and information systems undermine efficiency, threaten our security, and fail to serve an engaged citizenry.” The American people are waiting and waiting for this Obama promise of 2009 to be completed. Don’t hold your breath.
The President stated that cutting spending “starts with the painstaking work of examining every program, every entitlement, every dollar of government spending and asking ourselves: Is this program really essential? Are taxpayers getting their money’s worth? Can we accomplish our goals more efficiently or effectively some other way?” This is a correct analysis, yet the President has not followed this analysis with any actions to complete this task. “It’s a process we have already begun, scouring our budget line by line for programs that don’t work so we can cut them to make room for ones that do.” Really? Where are these cuts? They never happened. Maybe somebody on the left can point out the billions and billions in cuts that have been proposed and signed into law by President Obama. Again, don’t hold your breath for that list.
The President relied on some ridiculous and incorrect claims that ObamaCare would cut the federal debt. The Administration and allies in Congress did insert a provision in Obamacare that purports to “stopping the fraud and abuse in our Medicare program” as part of his $1 trillion dollar bill that was sold as “reforming our health care system.” The proposed ending of waste, fraud and abuse is yet another promise that the American people will have to wait years to assess. If recent events are any example, these promised cuts will never materialize. The President’s credibility on spending restraint has been severely hit by his actions to increase spending over his first year and a half in office.
Not suprisingly, this Administration been an enabler for Congress to declare virtially every new spending program an emergency in order to waive the “pay-as-you-go rule that we followed during the 1990s.” That provision in law is supposed to “find somewhere else to cut” when passing on new spending to the American people. The House and Senate have waived Pay-As-You go rules over and over again.
Gregg Easterbrook wrote for Reuters a few days ago in a column titled Congress’ “Emergency” Spending is Out of Control that the Senate has waived PayGo to the tune of $400 billion:
After listening to President Barack Obama call for fiscal restraint in his State of the Union Address this January, the United States Senate imposed the “paygo” rule on itself – no new expenditures unless offset by an equal amount of spending cuts or raised taxes. In the five months since vowing no new spending based on debt, the United States Senate has also voted for $400 billion in new spending that was added to the federal debt. Right now the Senate is debating adding another $80 billion or so in new spending based on borrowing.
The President could have used the threat of a veto to force the Senate to follow Pay-As-You-Go rules, yet he has yet to make an official veto threat to any of these new programs. Not to be outdone, Easterbrook points out that the House has voted for $5.1 in new spending.
As political flaming hypocrisy goes, that’s nothing! The House imposed paygo on itself in January 2007, and since has voted for $5.1 trillion in additions to the federal debt. House leaders support the next $80 billion in borrowing the Senate may approve.
Again, the President has done nothing to force the House to follow rules intended on restraining spending. It has become clear that these rules are merely a public relations tool for Congress and the President.
Easterbrook argues that the Pay-As-You-Go rule is full of procedural holes and has proven ineffective to control spending. “Paygo, you see, not only does not apply to spending for entitlements, defense and interest on the national debt – these categories alone representing the lion’s share of federal expenditures. Paygo also does not apply to any bill classified as ’emergency’ legislation. And since paygo went into force, nearly all spending bills have been ’emergency’ bills.” The Pay-As-You-Go rule is a means for free spenders in Congress to claim that they are restraining spending when this actually has provided the elites in Washington cover to spend, spend, spend on new program after program. The ruling class in our Nations’ Capitol is doing nothing at all to slow federal spending an, as a matter of fact, they are exponentially expanding the size and scope of federal power and spending on a daily basis.
Tad DeHaven of the CATO Institute points out that recent promises of the President to cut spending also seem empty.
President Obama’s lieutenants have instructed federal agencies to come up with spending cuts equal to five percent of their discretionary budgets for fiscal year 2012. That’s good, but the 2012 fiscal year doesn’t begin until October 1, 2011. Why wait?”
Agreed — what is the hold up from the failed effort in 2009 to the new promises of 2010? The reason is that this President dare not cut federal spending in an election year, because he is worried that his free spending allies in Congress will just say no.
As Tad DeHaven further points out, President Obama is engaging in business as usual and has followed his predecessor in ignoring the rescission authority that provides the President with authority to cut spending.
After all, the president can still use his regular rescission authority to propose cuts to Congress. The House Republican leadership has sent the president two letters asking him to use his rescission authority to submit cutting proposals to Congress. The president has thus far declined. Is the House Republican leadership engaging in a bit of gamesmanship? Sure. According to the Government Accountability Office, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, didn’t submit any rescission proposals to Congress either. Considering the massive spending spree Bush went on, it might have been nice.
President Obama can’t blame this one on President Bush, because he has promised repeatedly to bring the federal government spending down. The Presidents $787 billion Stimulus, $1 trillion ObamaCare, non-offset extensions of unemployment benefits and other smaller spending initiatives add up to projections, produced by President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget, that the federal debt by the end of 2010 to be $13.8 trillion.
The Tea Party movement has sprung up throughout the nation, because people are concerned about the out of control spending of politicians in Washington, D.C. and they don’t trust this Administration to get the job done. From Fox News:
USA Today/Gallup poll, the federal debt is just as big a concern for voters generally as terrorism, with 79 percent saying those issues are extremely or very serious. Unemployment, by contrast, is considered a serious issue by 83 percent. Broken down by party, 50 percent of Republicans see federal debt as a threat to the nation’s future, while 42 percent of independents agree. But only 26 percent of Democrats see it that way.
The American people are sick and tired of politicians, President Obama in particular, talking about cutting spending then taking actions that further endangering our nation’s fiscal future. The American people want federal elected officials in Congress and the Obama Administration to change the course and stop spending like a bunch of drunken sailors with an unlimited credit card insured by the American taxpayer.