WASHINGTON — President Obama will call for a three-year freeze in spending on many domestic programs, and for increases no greater than inflation after that, an initiative intended to signal his seriousness about cutting the budget deficit, administration officials said Monday.
The freeze would cover the agencies and programs for which Congress allocates specific budgets each year, including air traffic control, farm subsidies, education, nutrition and national parks.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
On the face of it, this budget freeze makes a lot of sense, even if it has the liberal wing of the nation in a flutter.
Look, not to put too fine a point on this, and at the risk of my liberal cred, I think Obama might have a point here: there's only so much we can spend, and unfortunately, much of that stimulus spending, as Joe Klein points out, nearly $600 billion of the $787 billion package went directly to taxpayers and the services they count on day to day.
Much of the rest went to public works projects that will create jobs...once the money starts getting spent. The trouble is, it was left up to Congress to deal with which shovel-ready projects would be picked, a bad idea in the best of times, a worse idea in an era of absolute partian rancor.
We're facing trillion dollar budget deficits, of which some ten to twenty percent can be attributed to the legacy of the Bush administration...unless of course you want to lay blame for the current recession at his feet as well, in which case, well, 100% of the trillions in annual debt is his. I don't think he's as much to blame for causing this economic collapse as much as he facilitated it.
Economies collapse under all regimes and administrations...except, curiously, Democratic ones, but I digress. It doesn't matter if it's a democracy, monarchy, tyranny, what have you: economies are cyclic.
The budgets he's proposed to freeze amount to about a sixth of annual government spending, so will lower deficits a little. It would be nice, hell, it would be revolutionary, if Obama actually proposed cutting the military budget a little as an acknowledgement that we are no longer fighting two wars, but a war and a half. That would actually make a difference in the deficit.
I don't know how this plays out: what taxes Obama will be forced to raise after the November elections, what actual budget cuts will be made. But I do know that all he really has to play with right now are things on the fringe of the budget and with the budget as frayed as it is, the fringe is a lot closer to whole cloth than we'd like.
We have to have patience here.
Posted by Carl at 1/26/2010 08:50:00 AM