For his next promise Obama’s deal-breaking budget
President Obama says he’s had enough of “mindless austerity”; he wants to undo “the arbitrary across-the-board cuts known as ‘the sequester’ ” that he agreed to back in 2011.
Releasing his fiscal 2016 budget on Monday, Obama proposed a whopping 7 percent increase in federal spending.
No matter that this means breaking his agreement three-plus years ago to automatic limits on spending, in exchange for permission to hike federal borrowing by a whopping $2.1 trillion.
That’s not the only way his budget goes back on his past word. Obama has repeatedly promised never to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000. But his new fiscal plan would skewer them.
Obama says he wants to “eliminate the trust-fund loophole” to “make sure everyone pays their fair share.”
What he calls a loophole is the increased value of your Mom-and-Pop business or that three-bedroom colonial you bought 30 years ago for $80,000 that’s now worth many times that.
When you die, Obama proposes taxing the appreciation under the capital-gains tax, then taxing the current value again under an increased federal estate tax (a k a “death tax”).
The double whammy adds up to a roughly 60 percent tax, making it impossible for your family to keep your business or home.
Obama calls this “middle-class economics,” but it’s really redistribution.
That tax hike is dead on arrival in the GOP Congress, but lawmakers might take the bait and abandon the sequester’s limits.
Obama says he wants to end “manufactured crises,” where a political standoff in Washington shuts down parts of the federal government. Yet his budget is plainly meant to manufacture another one.
Congress and the president must agree on spending measures to keep the government running past Oct. 1 and agree to hike the debt limit, already at an astounding $18.2 trillion.
It’s a showdown, possibly a shutdown, in the making. But Obama’s opening offer, his budget, is a list of “in your face” demands for things Republicans oppose.
Though Obama later denied it, the “sequester” was the brainchild of his White House.
After the soaring spending and debt of his early years in office prompted big losses for Democrats in the 2010 election, the president wanted to get the toxic issue of mounting debt off the table.
Generally presidents ask Congress once or twice a year for a debt-ceiling hike. But Obama wanted the issue out of the news as the 2012 election neared.
So in August 2011 he asked Congress for an unprecedented $2.1 trillion debt-limit hike, enough to take him past Election Day.
To get it, he agreed that starting in 2013 federal spending would be capped automatically until 2021. Accumulated “savings” would offset the $2.1 trillion already borrowed and put the nation on the road to fiscal responsibility.
Debating Mitt Romney in 2012, Obama denied the sequester was his idea — a fib that earned him four Pinocchios from Washington Post fact-checkers.
He’s been complaining about the sequester ever since, and now he wants it gone entirely. It’s like a couple who takes out a loan to pay off their credit cards, swearing they’ll stick to a budget in the future — then keeps on spending.
Obama wants to spend on free community college, other domestic giveaways, infrastructure projects and even a tripling of foreign aid to Central America, of all places.
Standard & Poor’s saw it coming. In August 2011, when Obama and Congress were striking their deal, the rating agency downgraded the nation’s debt, citing “political brinksmanship.”
It was the first downgrade in the nation’s history. And S&P said it was more about the nation’s politicians than its finances. In other words, the biggest deficit in Washington is character.
Some Republicans want to ditch the sequester, too. Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain said last week, “These arbitrary defense cuts . . . will harm our military’s ability to keep us safe.”
That’s unlikely — the sequester’s biggest impact on our military would be after Obama leaves office, when Congress can negotiate changes with a more rational president.
For now, troop deployments are exempt from the sequester, and there’s plenty of waste to cut at the Pentagon.
Still, Obama promises to match spending hikes on domestic programs with spending increases on defense — a gambit designed to peel off Republicans like McCain.
The risk is that spendaholics in both parties will abandon the sequester. Yet we’re already facing trillion-dollar annual deficits and a $22.3 trillion debt in just five years.
Any Republicans who count on a deal with Obama deserve what they get when he yet again reneges. But the nation deserves better.