An Ol' Broad's Ramblings
Obama’s Friends Win Big in Budget
You don’t need to log on to President Barack Obama’s Facebook page to find out who his friends are, and you don’t need to read tea leaves, gaze into a crystal ball, or consult a psychic to learn where his priorities lie. No, you only have to take a look at his 2013 budget, just released on Monday, to see what kind of company the president keeps and to what extent he will go to lend his pals a helping hand.
The folks seated at the president’s head table haven’t changed much in the past few years — the only difference is how much is being served up in the taxpayer-funded buffet. As in the past, the president has plenty of handouts for his big labor buddies. His budget delivers a fourth consecutive annual deficit exceeding $1 trillion — and that spending goes to yet another round of not-so-shovel-ready construction projects and government “investments” totaling $178 billion. Heritage’s Patrick Knudsen writes that the spending includes the president’s favored road, bridge, and school construction projects, but “then they go alarmingly beyond the usual ‘infrastructure’ arguments to fund teachers’ pay.” In other words, unions representing the construction site and the classroom win big.
Other winners in the president’s budget are those who fit into the Administration’s vision of a green economy that is propelled not by the market’s demand, but by Obama’s whim. The 2013 budget proposes to spend $310 million to make solar energy cost-competitive without subsidies by 2020, $290 million to expand R&D on energy efficient manufacturing techniques, and $421 million in fossil energy research and development. Heritage energy expert Nicolas Loris writes that the budget “rejects the notion of a market-based energy industry and wastes taxpayer dollars at a time when we desperately need to curtail out-of-control spending.” In other words, he says, the president’s blueprint is all wrong.
There’s no clearer example of just how wrong the president’s blueprint is than his decision to increase subsidies for electric vehicles like the $41,000 Chevy Volt while ending funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP), which gives low-income children in the nation’s capital a chance to escape underperforming schools. The White House intends to increase taxpayer-funded subsidies for those who purchase new-technology vehicles to $10,000 per buyer, up from $7,500. Keep in mind that the average income of a Volt buyer is $175,000 per year. That means that middle-class taxpayers are helping the rich buy pricy, politically correct cars.
With his other hand, President Obama is taking from the poor. The DCOSP provides $8,000 vouchers to 1,600 low-income children in the District of Columbia, empowering them to attend a school that they choose. The program has been a stunning success — though it has drawn criticism from the president’s teachers union allies. If the president gets his way, those children will pay the price.
They won’t be the only ones in their generation, though, who will suffer under the president’s budget. From a big picture perspective, the president’s budget rises from $3.8 trillion to $5.8 trillion in 2022. Putting that into context, that means outlays above 22 percent of gross domestic product — more than twice the New Deal’s share of the economy in its peak years. In constant dollars, outlays are more than three times the peak of World War II. With all that spending, someone will have to pay for it. Whose names will be on the bill? Those under 30 — America’s debt-paying generation. Their entire lives will be dominated by paying down today’s mountains of debt. And some of them are waking up to that fact.
“It will be my generation, rather than the retiring baby boomers, that will be paying off the national debt through higher income taxes,” says Amanda Winkler, 24, a Master’s Student at American University. Shaun Rabenius, 26, is a part-time construction worker and student. He says, “I have never followed politics much, except for when I vote. But in looking at the last decade, the presidencies, and the debt they have accumulated, I am scared out of my mind.”
They’re right to be worried. With a Senate that hasn’t passed a budget in well over 1,000 days and a president who seems intent on spending more, not less, without addressing the country’s underlying budgetary crisis, future generations will soon find that the winners today will make them losers tomorrow.