Observations on President Obama’s Budget

President Obama has released his FY 2016 budget, an act that fulfills a legal requirement but otherwise has only political significance. It is notable how much attention is being given in the press to a document that has no possibility of resulting in legislation.

Still, the budget is revealing in some ways. In the big picture, it confirms–if confirmation were needed–that Democrats have no vision for the future other than ever-higher spending and ever-growing debt. For them, there is no such thing as “enough.” Spending is an end in itself, because spending means writing checks and people who cash government checks, or work for companies that are dependent on government checks. are likely to vote for Democrats. If you are a Democrat, that is all there is to it, and if our children have no future, that is someone else’s problem. The Senate Budget Committee has released an analysis of Obama’s budget proposal that includes this chart, showing per capita debt as projected by the Obama budget. This assumes that all of its assumptions pan out. Click to enlarge:

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That’s not some nightmare vision of the future, it’s the Democrats’ best case scenario. Here is the Senate report; you can download it or read it here:

SBC Republican Staff Analysis of the POTUS FY 2016 Proposal

There are many aspects of the budget that could be commented on, obviously, but I will address just a couple. First, budgets by custom (and maybe by law) cover a ten-year time frame. That may be good in theory, but in practice it is meaningless. Hardly anyone ever goes back to past years’ budgets to compare them with present ones. I have done that, and the bottom line is that the present that must be acknowledged in this year’s budget never bears much relation to the rosy future that was contemplated by the budget proposal of five or six years past. This is one reason why it is silly to pay attention to the “out years.” White House propagandists make announcements about what a budget would mean over ten years, but of course, the out years never come. Beyond this fiscal year and maybe the next one, the budget is meaningless and should be regarded as such.

A good example of this is the fact that Obama’s budget contemplates breaking the discretionary spending caps that Republicans and Democrats agreed on in the 2011 Budget Control Act. This was, as you may recall, the deal that resolved the much-ballyhooed fiscal cliff. The Democrats got a lot out of the deal, but Republicans got something, too: the discretionary caps. Now the Democrats want to keep what they got, and take back what the Republicans got. Obama signed the Budget Control Act, of course; now he proposes to violate it.

The reality is that no Congress can bind a future Congress. The Budget Control Act actually worked better than one might have expected, but no one should put much stock in “savings” promised in future years. If the Democrats have the votes, the savings will go up in smoke.

Second, note what Obama wants to do in the area of energy:

The President’s budget proposes a $1.1 billion increase in discretionary spending in Function 270, Energy. This is a 25 percent increase from last year and includes large increases for the Department of Energy’s energy programs: Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) receives a 16 percent increase; Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability receives an 84 percent increase; and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy receives a 41 percent increase. In contrast, the Office of Fossil Energy is cut by 2 percent.

Right. Fossil fuels are where we get the overwhelming majority of our energy. What’s the rest all about? Obama wants to slide billions to cronies whose business depend on government mandates and subsidies; they, in turn, tithe to the Democratic Party. But that is a scam that has been going on for a while.

The President’s budget requests a $500 million increase for the Environmental Protection Agency. This includes an additional $239 million for development and promulgation of climate change standards.

Think about that one for a moment. An additional $239 million for “development and promulgation of climate change standards.” That money won’t build a factory or even pay for a physical object, beyond a pencil or two. It will go directly to people who can plausibly portray themselves as climate scientists and who are willing to toe the government’s line on global warming. And this is just one of thousands of business opportunities that come to those who are willing to be part of the global warming team. I have worked with people who write regulations for the EPA, and trust me: it’s good work if you can get it.

That’s the real corruption in Washington: not somebody paying a Congressman to vote a particular way on legislation, which almost never happens. Rather, it is the perfectly legal arrangements that dominate the nation’s capital, as the administration slides taxpayer money here and there to buy support. Support does not always mean campaign contributions and votes; it can also mean “scientific” reports that buttress the case for more government.