Barack Obama keeps saying that there isn’t a government program for every problem, but his new near-$4 trillion 2015 budget suggests just the opposite. There is more federal money here for everything from changing the planet’s temperature to green energy to transit systems to nowhere to expanded welfare state programs to federal day care.
This budget busts the budget caps that already were raised just late last year. That didn’t take long. It calls for spending $56 billion above the caps to be paid for by “loophole closing” tax increases to pry more money from businesses and investors. This isn’t allowed under the budget rules, but Obama makes them up as he goes along.
The big increases in domestic programs are camouflaged partly by major reductions in the military budget in recent years. Budget savings in recent years have been almost exclusively from reductions in troop levels and military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The defense budget is down nearly $100 billion since 2011 and further cuts are on the way this year.
But instead of using those savings to start eliminating an expected one-half trillion deficit, the White House wants to spend $302 billion over four years to finance transportation projects, including a new infrastructure bank. Obama continues to claim that infrastructure spending has been underfunded in recent years, but the budget reality is quite at odds with that assessment.
Americans pay more than $100 billion a year in gas taxes, tolls, and vehicle fees to finance what should be an efficient transportation system. Total federal transportation grants, according to Obama’s own budget, exceeded $60 billion last year, a 50 percent increase since 2003’s $40 billion. In 2005 George W. Bush signed the biggest transportation bill in American history and that was followed by a bonus $48 billion in added transportation funding in the 2009 Obama stimulus bill, for all those shovel-ready projects.
Total federal infrastructure spending (not counting defense) rose to $268 billion this year from $180 billion in 2000, almost a 50 percent after inflation rise.
The welfare state has expanded to new heights under Obama with record enrollments in Medicaid, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and disability. One in seven families is now collecting food stamps. Now the White House is seeking to enroll almost 6 million more Americans in the earned income tax credit program, at a cost of $60 billion. The EITC is a cash subsidy to working poor families. Obama is not suggesting this as a replacement for existing programs, but as an addition to the $1 trillion a year and counting diverted to the welfare state.
It’s a budget that should be dead on arrival and if by chance it still has a heartbeat, sign it up for Obamacare. That will surely be its deserved death sentence.