Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Budget Balancing Act

The big news yesterday was that President Obama released his budget with a lot of cuts to programs that a lot of people — including me — like. It was his attempt to cut over $1 trillion out of federal spending over the next ten years. The Republicans in the House are also planning to release their budget that would cut a lot of programs that a lot of people like, including aid to needy children and schools such as Title I and nutrition programs for pregnant women who can’t afford good healthcare. Of course they’re also planning more tax cuts for the wealthy because they don’t want to burden our children with more debt. The two philosophies — cut the budget to screw the kids in order to save the next generation while at the same time cutting taxes to shrink the deficit — only make sense if you’re a Republican or George Orwell.

To top it off, you have the notion that a Democrat cutting $1 trillion out of the budget over ten years is insignificant, but a Republican doing it is real progress towards economic salvation. At least that’s the view put forward by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), via CNN and Steve Benen.

President Obama’s new budget proposal intends to cut the deficit by $1.1 trillion over the next decade. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama was asked on CNN this morning whether he considers that “a good start.” He replied:

“No, it’s not. This is a ten-year budget. It sets the president’s plans and what the country should do for the next 10 years…. $1 trillion reduction is insignificant and does not get us off the right course.”

I assume he meant to say “wrong course,” but misspoke. Fine.

But literally two minutes later, in exact the same interview, Sessions reflected on House Republicans’ proposed cuts.

“[E]ven the $100 billion House proposal in reducing spending will amount to $1 trillion. And that’s a step. I mean, because, you carry it out for ten years and you save $1 trillion in that fashion.”

Need I say more?

By the way, the response of Andrew Sullivan to the Obama budget is amusing for its intemperance. Maybe I’m too cynical, or maybe he’s not enough, but I don’t understand why he doesn’t see that both budget proposals — from the White House and the GOP — are just the opening moves. The final budget, if they ever get to it, will look nothing like this. It never does.