If you had a $5,000 mortgage payment this month, would selling your $50 bicycle take care of it? No, but that’s not what President Obama seems to think.
This Wednesday, President Obama will give his State of the Union Address. One of the items he is expected to propose is imposing a “non-security” spending freeze on Congress for the next three years.
At first glance, this seems like a really good change in policy; congressional spending has been spiraling out of control for years now—particularly in the last year—and the government needs to get its act together before it taxes, spends, and borrows its way into financial ruin. The problem is this “spending freeze” doesn’t sound like its going to do a whole lot.
It’s going to reduce the budget deficit by about 1%. That’s right, our fiscal salvation is going to come by cutting $15,000,000,000 (that’s $15 billion) out of a $1,350,000,000,000 (that’s $1.35 trillion) deficit. That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office (Source: Fox News).
In other words, the government is expected to pay for more programs, salaries, and projects than it can afford with the money it already has in the bank; in order to do that, they will have to borrow an estimated $1.35 trillion. To make that loan more affordable, Obama is proposing to tighten Congress’ belt by about 1%.
That’s like selling your $50 bicycle in the newspaper to help you afford a $5,000 house payment this month: It might work if you can find other ways to nickel-and-dime yourself up to $5,000, but if that’s where your plan ends, you’re just out of luck—not to mention you’re still going to have to find a way to scrounge up $5,000 again next month.
And let’s not forget government-run health care. Projections on its cost run anywhere between $1 and $3 trillion. Public health care has been such a flagship of the Obama Administration that I can’t imagine him putting it on the sideline in favor of a spending freeze; since the freeze doesn’t apply to Medicare and Medicaid, I can only assume this means they’re planning to classify the proposed health care reform under one of those programs, and use that to justify upping the deficit.
The problem is attitude. Congress has been living beyond their means for so long that cutting the budget by $15 billion feels like a lot; and while $15 billion is a lot of money, it’s minuscule in comparison to the $1.35 trillion deficit we’re facing this year and the $12 trillion debt our country is already lugging around.