In our opinion: The president's budget

Published: Wednesday, April 10 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

FILE - In this July 13, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign stop in downtown Roanoke, Va. New figures released Friday by the White House predict this year?s federal budget deficit will end up at $1.2 trillion. That would make the fourth consecutive year of trillion dollar-plus deficits during President Barack Obama?s administration. (AP Photo/Don Petersen, File)

Associated Press

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President Obama is expected to submit a proposed budget to Congress today that he himself concedes is not an "ideal plan." That lackluster recommendation from the plan's author doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

Of course, there are obvious reasons for the president's marked lack of enthusiasm, as his budget comes up short in just about every respect.

Republicans hate it because it has half a trillion dollars in additional tax increases piled on top of the tax hikes to which they conceded during the so-called "fiscal cliff" negotiations at the end of last year. Democrats hate it because of its minor changes to the inflation calculations determining cost of living increases for the unsustainable entitlement programs that are driving the nation to the brink of insolvency. And, standing in the midst of all the partisan bickering, ordinary Americans are left to study a budget laden with meager measures and empty promises that will do little or nothing to put the nation's fiscal house in order.

It's simple mathematics. News reports claim that under the president's plan, the deficit would be cut by $1.8 trillion. That's an impressive figure only until you realize this reduction is spread over the course of 10 years. Last year's deficit alone was $1.1 trillion, the fourth deficit in a row of more than $1 trillion. With the possibility of close to an additional $10 trillion in new debt being accumulated during that same time frame, a $1.8 trillion reduction is woefully insufficient.

The nation simply cannot keep doing this.

The United States has reached the point where its national debt is now larger than its gross domestic product, and at the current rate of spending, even if Congress were to adopt the president's proposal, the nation is on track to double that in the next 20 years.

Consider that Greece, which is on the verge of total fiscal collapse, has a current debt-to-GDP ratio of 160 percent, and it has barely remained solvent only because of repeated bailouts from the European Union. When the United States reaches a debt-to-GDP ratio of 200 percent, who will bail it out? How does it dig out of that hole? Shouldn't the United States be doing everything it can to avoid that entirely avoidable disaster?

Instead, political interests are bickering over halfhearted gestures, such as this inadequate budget, that do nothing to solve the underlying problem.

The president's proposed budget, like those he has submitted in recent years, likely isn't going to get much serious attention. We wish someone in Washington had a serious proposal that would garner attention.

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