In exchange for what? Obama proposes to spend even more on his failed foreclosure-prevention program, one of the bailout initiatives that continue to lose money. (Distasteful as the bank bailouts were, those funds have largely been repaid, often at a modest profit; the secondary measures demanded by Obama and other Democrats — money for mortgage defaulters, the GM fiasco, etc. — are where the losses have occurred.) Obama proposes to pay for his “investments” in renewable/green/unicorn energy by smacking around real energy providers with higher taxes and more invasive regulation. He even proposes to start pawning some of the family jewels, selling off oil from the strategic reserve to help fatten Energy Department bureaucrats. The strategic petroleum reserve is there to stockpile oil in case of a true national emergency — war or natural disaster — and bad as Obama’s budget is, it isn’t exactly the sort of catastrophe America had in mind when the reserve was created.
While the president is bailing out mortgage deadbeats and playing sandbox energy tycoon, his budget shortchanges one of the few areas of spending that represent an inarguable federal responsibility: national defense. Hacking away at the military while U.S. troops are at war in Afghanistan and Iraq — and while the Middle East is undergoing historic turmoil and China grows ambitious — is problematic on its own. Doing so to free up money for spending on projects that are far beyond federal responsibility and far outside of federal expertise is asinine.
Republicans, who already have offered credible proposals to reduce this year’s spending, are well-positioned to propose a significantly better budget, and they should fight for one. It should not be forgotten that Democrats didn’t even bother to pass a budget last time around, leaving the nation’s finances under an ad hoc “continuing resolution.” Obama’s proposal suggests that the nation may be better off if Democrats continue to take a pass.