We knew President Obama would be late in submitting his fiscal year 2014 budget proposal. White House press secretary Jay Carney largely dismissed yesterday’s legal deadline, arguing for “substance over deadlines” when it comes to evaluating the President’s budget.
Translation: There’s nothing to see here.
However, Obama’s budget request is something worth seeing, because it shows his priorities—namely how he proposes to solve our twin crises of spending and debt. Now Americans may have to wait until March to see the President’s plan.
President Obama and the Senate have largely ignored deadlines to submit or pass budgets. Obama has now missed four out of five budget submission deadlines, and the Senate has not passed a budget since 2009. House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R–WI) explains the consequences:
Every time the President and Senate Democrats shirk their duty, they delay choices we need to make. We’ve still got time, but it’s dwindling. Every missed deadline is a missed opportunity. We need to get serious about spending now.
Washington does need to demonstrate that it is serious, because its current course of overspending and borrowing is unsustainable. Obama should seize the opportunity to correct this problem and propose meaningful entitlement program reforms and concrete ways to reduce federal spending. If Washington does nothing, spending will continue rising and push debt to economically damaging levels. Spending on the main three entitlement programs—Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security—plus interest on the debt will consume all tax revenue in little more than a decade.
As Heritage Foundation expert Patrick Louis Knudsen sums it up:
The government’s fiscal problems are real and getting worse. It will take serious, substantial, and sustained spending restraint to correct its disastrous fiscal course. That, in turn, depends on restoring consistent, regular budgeting practices.
Now more than ever, Washington needs to start using the budget process again so that it can begin reining in spending and reforming the entitlement programs in an orderly, transparent way. President Obama failed meet the budget deadline; only time will tell whether he will deliver on the budget “substance” the country needs.