Obama’s Budget Fantasies

This morning David Axelrod conducted a conference call with reporters in which he admitted that Barack Obama lost last night’s debate, and asked the reporters to help Obama rebound. He followed up by smearing Mitt Romney, the Obama campaign’s favored tactic:

Romney had delivered “a very vigorous performance but one that was devoid of honesty”, Axelrod said.

“And so today, as the day after, I think the question for you [the media], for the American people is really one of character and whether or not a candidacy that’s so fundamentally rooted in hiding the truth and the facts from the American people and deception is the basis of trust on which you assign the presidency to a person. …

“Because we need an an honest and a genuine and realistic plan to move forward and not a bunch of lines designed to get you through a debate.”

In fact, though, it was Obama who made claims last night that were untethered to the truth. He repeated his often-debunked assertion that his budget would achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction with a “balanced” approach that provides $2.50 in spending cuts for every $1 in new taxes. Any normal person, knowing that we now have $16 trillion in debt and hearing Obama say that his budget provides $4 trillion in deficit reduction, would think that Obama’s budget would take the debt down to $12 trillion. That is, of course, false.

Jeff Sessions released a statement today that explained how dishonest Obama’s claims are:

Rebutting these claims does not require theory or speculation. All we have to do is review the President’s own budget document, as submitted to Congress, and look up the figures in the tables provided.

Tables S-1 and S-4 from the summer budget update show a $1.8 trillion tax increase. So for the President to promise 2.5 times as many spending cuts would require reductions of $4.5 trillion. But table S-4 shows outlays of $46 trillion—a spending request $1.4 trillion greater than what we are currently planning to spend. Overall, under the President’s plan, the federal budget will grow 58 percent larger—from $3.6 trillion today to $5.9 trillion in 2022. The gross federal debt, as shown in table S-14, will rise $11 trillion from last year’s debt total—to $25.4 trillion in 2022.

As for the President’s mysterious $4 trillion in deficit reduction, it’s nowhere to be found. The President’s net change in spending is a $1.4 trillion increase and his net change in taxes is a $1.8 trillion increase—leaving less than $400 billion in deficit reduction, one-tenth of what he pledges. As Glenn Kessler writes: “The repeated claim that Obama’s budget reduces the deficit by $4 trillion is simply not accurate… fake money is being used to pay for real spending projects.”

And that assumes, of course, that 100% of the fairy-tale assumptions in Obama’s budget come true. So where does the mysterious multi-trillion dollar reduction in spending come from? Obama plays several accounting tricks, but one of the biggest is that he counts all the money that we are not spending on a war in Iraq as a “spending cut.” Every year. Then he takes those “savings” and spends them somewhere else. But really, Obama is only scratching the surface of this gimmick. We aren’t fighting the Vietnam War any longer, either. So why not count all the money we aren’t spending in Vietnam as “budget cuts” that we can then spend somewhere else? And how about World War II? We are “saving” that money too, aren’t we? Imagine what the numbers would look like if we converted World War II spending to present-day dollars! The “savings” from no longer fighting WWII would be enough to finance all of our entitlement spending!

Is Barack Obama the most dishonest politician in American history? I’m not sure, but he certainly is a contender.