Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget feast covered by $8 billion job-training wafer

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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On Monday, President Barack Obama worked to soften his request for a gargantuan $901 billion budget-deficit by showcasing his demand for a $8 billion job-training program.

“An economy built to last demands that we should do everything we can to help students learn the skills the employers are looking for,” Obama declared in a campaign-style speech at a community college in Annandale, Va., where he announced the $8 billion program.

Overall, Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget requests $901 billion in deficit spending, following $1.33 trillion in deficit spending during this year. The spending will boost the nation’s debt well past $16 trillion by October 2013, further endangering the country’s already damaged credit-rating.

That high-spending threatens to shift the public’s focus back towards the federal government’s spending habits. That concern boosted the GOP in the 2010 election, but has since been muffled by the Democrats’ and the media’s shared focus on income-inequality and the now-abandoned Occupy protests.

The budget request “doesn’t seem to comprehend the enormity of the debt situations we face,” said Tevi Troy, a former official in George W. Bush’s administration, who now works at the Hudson Institute.

“I was hoping for some real adjustments in spending levels… these political budgets are not helping us come to grips with our long-term financial disasters,” he told The Daily Caller.

The morning job-training speech will help shape the media’s coverage of his budget, and it provides a camera-friendly response to the GOP’s criticism of his proposed budget as reckless.

“Reckless spending is the trademark of the Obama presidency,” according to a Feb. 12 statement from Sean Spicer, communications director at the Republican National Committee. “As the national debt races toward $16 trillion, the president continues to grow government, rather than shrink it,” Spicer wrote.

Gov. Mitt Romney’s criticism was similar: “Once again, President Obama is offering no meaningful proposals to solve our entitlement crisis or get spending under control,” read a statement from Romney’s campaign.

Despite the Democrats’ messaging, the GOP’s message — and the tide of red-ink — is shaping media coverage.

The Washington Post, for example, highlighted the budget’s greater-than-predicted 10-year spending forecast.

“The new 10-year blueprint shows annual deficits exceeding $600 billion every year except 2018… debt held by outside investors would grow to $18.7 trillion by 2021, or 76.5 percent of the economy — a full $1 trillion higher” than predicted earlier by the administration, said the Post’s Feb. 13 report on Obama’s budget request.

In his morning speech, Obama’s tried to address his audience’s concern about government debt by urging higher taxes on the wealthy. The audience’s response was muted, however, even as Obama declared that “you’re the ones who deserve a break.”

“We don’t envy the wealthy, but we do expect everyone to do their fair share… given where our deficit is, it is just a matter of math that folks like me just have to do a little more,” Obama said, while the audience listened silently.

The audience did cheer when Obama said his calls for increased taxes were not “class warfare,” but only “common sense.”

Obama also told the audience that his long-term plan slices $4 trillion from the next 10 years of deficits.

GOP officials deride his budget math, saying his plans would actually only cut roughly $273 billion from the existing programs that will likely add $11 trillion of deficits to the national debt over the next ten years.

Obama’s morning speech included many elements from the stump speech that he’s being using over the last few months, but he also highlighted a list of spending projects that are likely favored by his supportive audience of community college students.

The job-training program is called the Community College to Career Fund, and will be described as a way to provide two million workers “with skills that will lead directly to a job,” according to a White House Feb. 13 statement.

Also, Obama’s TV-appearance will be followed up by an afternoon press briefing with three senior officials. They are Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Munoz.

Washington is already spending roughly $18 billion per year on 47 job-training programs overseen by nine federal agencies, according to a February 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office.