The United States must reverse its spending habits, and most Americans know it. A recent poll by Resurgent Republic shows that 62 percent of likely voters are very concerned about the level of deficit spending of which Congress is guilty. When those that were somewhat concerned are included, the percentage of Americans that view Congress’ spending as reckless and irresponsible grows even larger.
President Obama is obviously aware of this sentiment among the American people, but whether or not he takes it seriously is another question. The Washington Times reminds us that during his presidential campaign, President Obama promised to “go through the federal budget line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.” And just last week, the President addressed his debt commission, claiming that in order to achieve its objectives, everything—tax increases, spending reductions, and even the recently-passed health care overhaul—must be on the table.
But is everything on the table? The President’s budget for 2011 included a recommendation to cut discretionary spending to create $10.3 billion in savings. Since these won’t go into effect until October, Republican leaders suggested the President use his rescission authority to enact the cuts immediately. And just last week, they upped their recommendation by offering a list of rescissions that would increase savings to $375 billion.
These represent real savings that could be obtained with no action from the questionably effective debt commission. If the President were serious about cutting spending to reduce the deficit, this would be the place to start, but thus far, no response has been given.
Instead, the President’s actions indicate the opposite. He signed a bloated and likely-to-fail health care bill that creates expensive new entitlement programs and will cost trillions. He raised the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion. He proposed a budget that will create record deficits for years to come. And according to Resurgent Republic, 56 percent of likely voters agree that the costly stimulus package was a waste of borrowed dollars on unnecessary spending. As far as fiscal responsibility goes, President Obama does not have a good track record.
According to Heritage budget expert Brian Riedl, soaring deficits are due not to a lack of taxation, but rather out-of-control spending. This is based on current and historical levels of spending and taxation as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product. President Obama doesn’t need to wait for the recommendation of the debt commission to prove he means business when it comes to controlling the federal deficit. The way forward is clear: cut spending, and do it now.