Just a few weeks ago, President Barack Obama delivered the annual State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress, complete with the usual pomp and pageantry we’ve come to expect. With the nation watching, he delicately walked a fine line, trying not to offend anyone and please everyone. This, too, has become a tradition of sorts.
And this week, with the festivities of the State of the Union behind us, another yearly tradition known as the unveiling of the president’s budget for the next fiscal year takes center stage.
With our nation continuing to weather one of its most severe economic recessions in recent history, the economy featured prominently in the president’s remarks. No doubt the president’s speechwriters consulted with scores of public opinion polls prior to drafting the speech to confirm that jobs remain the top concern among the American electorate.
These polls also reveal that the American people are becoming increasingly concerned with the growing federal deficit and excessive government spending. In fact, the American people spoke loud and clear in last year’s midterm elections to express their frustration with the direction of our country. So it’s no surprise that President Obama was forced to address this concern during his State of the Union.
Excessive federal spending is never a shaky foundation for any progressive, including the president, who is convinced that the federal government is the answer for virtually every problem the nation faces.
Of course, the president’s speechwriters deftly tried to conceal increased spending while promising to rein in federal expenditures to trim the ever-increasing national deficit. By cleverly using the word “investment” for “spending,” we were led to believe that we could simultaneously create jobs, increase spending and reduce the deficit.
If it sounds fanciful, that’s because it is. And in case anyone needs the evidence, the president’s proposed budget to Congress confirmed just how shallow his rhetoric about cutting spending truly is. According to the figures included in the report, the president’s budget would put a five-year freeze on non-defense discretionary spending, resulting in $400 billion in savings over a decade.
$400 billion comes to just 3 percent of the $13 trillion projected deficit over the next decade. Unfortunately, this is a drop in the bucket when we are facing a $13 trillion deficit over the next 10 years.
A far better proposal to truly make a dent in the federal deficit is the plan being sketched by the Republican Study Committee that would save $2.5 trillion over the next decade. This is a much bolder step than the president’s tepid plan to put our fiscal house in order.
Reining in federal spending to reduce our national deficit is of paramount importance if we are to leave our children with a prosperous economy and an abundance of economic opportunity for them to live the American Dream.
The president must match his lofty rhetoric to cut federal spending with the determination that is so desperately needed at this critical juncture of our country’s proud history.
Israel Ortega is the Editor of Heritage Libertad, the Spanish-language page of The Heritage Foundation, a think tank in Washington, D.C. Follow Israel on Twitter at @IzzyOrtega