Examiner Editorial: Deficit reduction cuts that will never happen

Tea party candidates, we are told, are unelectable crazies who propose such nutty things as cutting federal spending, reducing federal taxes, even abolishing chronically failing government operations like the Department of Education. But who knew that federal bureaucracy’s biggest enemy would turn out to be President Barack Obama? Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation recently described in a Washington Times op-ed important details buried in Obama’s 529-page budget document for the fiscal year that began last Friday. The Obama proposal, first released in February, purports to reduce the budget deficit to a mere
$1 trillion by 2020. But it only does so with draconian cuts to government programs beloved on the left, all buried deep within the document’s fine print.

According to Riedl, Obama’s budget plan for 2020 does the following:
* Slashes Office of Elementary and Secondary Education by 69 percent.
* Shrinks the EPA by one-third.
* Trims housing assistance for AIDS patients by 12 percent.
* Slashes housing for the elderly and disabled by 70 percent.
* Cuts energy research and development by 45 percent.
* Shrinks LIHEAP (a low-income heating assistance program) by 36 percent.
* Reduces highway spending by 23 percent.
* Cuts child care funding 22 percent.

If we did not know better, we would think that Obama has been inspired by the tea party to take a wrecking ball to big government. But we do know better, having seen the Washington wink-wink budget games played by professional politicians in both parties. Obama has no intention of gutting the Department of Education or any of these other programs. Even if he did, he knows he won’t be president in 2020. All he has really done is pad his budget for now with fantasy cuts for the day after tomorrow, cuts that he has no intention of ever actually asking Congress to approve. This is but the latest sign of a presidency that is increasingly adrift without a new economic recovery plan to replace the first one that so miserably failed.

Not long after passage of the Obama economic stimulus package, the president’s advisors leaked word that he would eventually “pivot” and focus on restraining government spending. Instead, he plowed ahead with costly new entitlement programs for health care, financial bailouts for irresponsible state governments and incompetently managed corporations like AIG, and federal subsidies to keep paychecks flowing to unionized public school teachers. If the GOP retakes Congress on Nov. 2, the new majority’s first mission ought to be to get federal spending under control, a task Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress have clearly failed to accomplish.

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