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Snarp's avatar

What do you think of Obama's proposed budget freeze?

Asked by Snarp (11181 points ) January 26th, 2010

So Obama is set to announce a budget that will freeze all spending increases in domestic discretionary spending, resulting in about 10 billion dollars in savings a year. Essentially this will have serious consequences for states, cities, poor people, national parks, and lots of other programs, but will have a completely meaningless impact on the deficit. Meanwhile we have now spent over a trillion dollars on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the pentagon budget is considered sacrosanct. I’ve been trying really hard to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, knowing he was never going to be everything I wanted him to be, but this to me is blatant pandering to the tea party crowd at the expense of the well being of the people and the nation, all because Massachusetts elected a Republican. That’s darn close to just me being on a soapbox, I know, but what do you all think of this plan? http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/26/us/politics/26budget.html?hp

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41 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Kind of anti-Keynesian, right in the middle of a recession, but that’s what happens when politicians care more about being reelected than for looking out for their constituents.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t like a freeze on all spending increases. I like better to analyze more specifically where we can/should cut, freeze, and/or spend that makes sense. I thought he was going to go line by line, this doesn’t sound like an intricate evaluations of government spending.

Snarp's avatar

@JLeslie Well, he’s supposed to go line by line, but he is promising an overall freeze, and it is only the domestic discretionary lines. I’m betting mostly the ones that won’t get any flack from corporate or union lobbyists.

CMaz's avatar

He is a douche.

JLeslie's avatar

@Snarp Doesn’t sound good. It is just a freeze on increases though. I agree that it seems tactical. Maybe he just doesn’t want to deal with any conversations or requests for increases on this front, and then he will tackle some of the other parts of the budget going forward? The way government money is spent is ridiculous. They make sure they use up all of the money by the end of the year to make sure they get the same money next year, even if they could have come in under budget (non-profits do the same thing). All sorts of mishigas that is outrageous.

Snarp's avatar

@JLeslie Given inflation, increasing needs, and changing technology, a freeze on increases can result in very real cuts in services.

fireinthepriory's avatar

Because it’s not a true across-the-board freeze and because Obama is a smart man, I have hope that it won’t send us deeper into a recession. I don’t think it’ll help though. I’d guess it’s a ploy to get republican support, to break this trend in the politics of elected republicans right now, which is to disagree with whatever the dems are doing. I also think that on that front, it won’t work.

Cruiser's avatar

Internationally Obama has been perceived as unsure, ineffective and still wet behind the ears and what better way to look like a tough guy then to beat up his own country men when times are tough and the chips are down. Further proof he is just as out of touch with the very people who elected him as he is with the people who were against him running this country for these very reasons.

JLeslie's avatar

@Snarp I’m still waiting for the inflation. I thought it would be here three years ago. Does it cut services or just mean no one is getting a raise? Lots of people have not had raises for years.

Snarp's avatar

@JLeslie No one knows right now what it will do, but it’s pretty good bet that services will be cut, hopefully in places they don’t think anyone will notice. But job cuts are more likely than lack of raises. But hey, unless the House and Senate are willing to get on board it won’t actually happen anyway.

westy81585's avatar

Just a few quick points.
-The spending freeze won’t take effect for 3 years. The assumption being the economy will be recovered by then, and if it’s not we can always delay/cancel the freeze. In other words, this will have no impact whatsoever on the immediate recession.

-This spending freeze has no effect on the stimulus already in play. It’s more of a way to go around and find out where we can save money, whilst still spending money where we need it. Think of it like this; If you decided you were gonna spend a bunch of money to renovate all the windows in your house to high efficiency windows, and your budget is already stretched SUPER thin… would you start buying the value brand names at the grocery store, or continue buying name brand? Or maybe you decide basic cable is all you need as opposed to the premium plan (or no cable at all).

People on both sides are ridiculing him for doing one thing and then doing the opposite thing and just counteracting it, hence having no effect and appearing confused. But in reality he’s doing what any smart person would do if they were spending a lot of money on an already tight budget…... cut money from somewhere else (and it’s ironic because I would think Republicans would be thrilled with this idea…. since it’s basically the only idea they actually back).

janbb's avatar

Right now, I’m feeling like if they told him to stand on his head and spit quarters out of his mouth, he would do it. I am sick with disappointment.

Snarp's avatar

@westy81585 That’s not accurate, as far as I can tell. From the Times story: “For the coming fiscal year, the reductions would be $10 billion to $15 billion”. That means the freeze starts with the next fiscal year, not in three years. What happens in three years is that increases are held to inflation.

Ultimately what this proposed budget is about is trying to appease deficit hawks by making cuts in programs that don’t have a strong lobby, that’s it. That will likely mean cuts in programs that give money to state and local governments, which means those governments will cut jobs and services. It will also mean cuts in direct federal services and programs which will be more government job losses, all while unemployment is high. That, as @dpworkin noted, is anti-Keynesian, and for those who don’t know, Keynes was the economist whose philosophies got us through the depression.

No one is going to balance the budget in the U.S. again without raising taxes, particularly on the wealthy.

westy81585's avatar

@Snarp What I have read has said that the freeze wouldn’t fully go into effect for 3 years. And honestly, I give Obama the benefit of the doubt. I know that there are places in the governments budget where they can afford to make cuts, and some areas where we’re simply going to HAVE to make cuts if we can because the other option isn’t pretty (financial collapse). We needed the stimulus to keep the economy going and to rebuild it, but that’s no excuse for not cutting in other areas if we can.

And also, Obama has hinted at plans to increase taxes on the wealthy (he campaigned on it but has been stuck on the stimulus and healthcare to this point). We’re not going to fix the budget by JUST raising taxes (they’d have to be raised too high). And we’re not going to fix it by JUST cutting our budget (it’d be bare bones). What it appears to me Obama is trying to do, is a little bit of both. The trick is going to be finding a balance.

Besides, the State of the Union is on Wednesday. Give the man a chance to explain himself and his plan before crying foul.

Blondy's avatar

Everythink he does is suspect. He can’t be trusted.
He’s making the recession worse, not better.

Snarp's avatar

@westy81585 There isn’t enough cut proposed to even make a dent in the deficit, but it is enough to hurt the recovery.

I’ll give you two line items that will save much more than this cut very quickly: Iraq and Afghanistan. After that we should go after the single entity that eats up the majority of discretionary spending -the Pentagon.

Really, I hope you’re right, but he’s already essentially blown off health care because a handful of Republicans got elected, so I’m very concerned at the level of political pandering going on right now, from a President who is years away from reelection and who needs only one thing to guarantee his reelection – an economic recovery that isn’t a “jobless recovery”.

westy81585's avatar

@Snarp He’s cutting the Iraq war. Our troops will be almost completely out by 2011, and they’ve already been more than halved. And the Afghan troops will be out by the end of his second term, and will never break 100k in numbers. Besides, with Afghanistan it’s a need, not a luxury (and i’m a bonafied liberal saying that). And you’re right it wouldn’t be much of a mark in the deficit, but you have to start somewhere.

And he hasn’t given up on healthcare all together. Last time I checked he has at least 3 years left in his term, and the current bill isn’t even dropped (it’s looking more like the pluffer [spelling?] guy is suggesting we get it done using reconciliation, as are an increasing number of Dems… so you may yet see it). BUT, truth is, if he doesn’t focus on the economy and make voters realize he’s not ignoring the jobless numbers…. the Dems are going to get annihilated in November… and he’s not going to accomplish anything else.

Frankly, I don’t think cutting spending that we don’t need will have an effect on the recovery. If it’s not costing us jobs somehow, or drastically effecting services, then I’m all for it.

Do you know how much money our federal offices blow each year that they could be saving if they were told “You know what, you’re not getting that 3% raise this year…. find a way to make it work.” ? They can EASILY save this much money over the whole system. And I for one applaud him for laying down his foot on it.

tabbycat's avatar

I’ll wait and see, but I have to admit I’m disappointed. To me, getting people back to work should be Job No. 1, and that will take money—money to state and local governments, and incentives to small businesses to hire people. I think he’s sending out the wrong message here.

Once people get back to work, there will be new tax revenues and reduced benefits, and those will work to help balance the budget—not that any of this is going to be easy. We’ve dug ourselves an enormous hole here, and it will take years to get us out of this.

Snarp's avatar

@westy81585 You sir, are an incurable optimist. Barring an economic miracle, the Democrats are going to get annihilated in November no matter what Obama does.

westy81585's avatar

@Snarp If you look at the numbers, it actually doesn’t look that way. From the looks of it if we play our cards right, we’ll PROBABLY lose some numbers in both halves of congress….. But most experts think we’re a pretty safe bet to maintain majorities, supposing we don’t completely phone it in like Coakley did in Mass.

Nullo's avatar

It’s “only” going to save what, $10 billion? Five points for good effort, I suppose.
The bailout packages have really skewed my sense of federal spending :\.

janbb's avatar

@Nullo The bailout packages? What about the budgets for the wars?

westy81585's avatar

@Nullo $10 billion this year…. As much as $400 billion over the next decade.

@janbb Military spending has gone down since Obama was elected (mostly because of the massive drawdown in Iraq, but also because of cutting un-needed programs like the F-22 and that plane laser thing they were working on). It is expected to continue to drop as we continue to remove troops from Iraq, and in the long run remove them from afghanistan. In other words we’ll be out of both within the next 5 years. Safetly/smartly/financially wisely.

Snarp's avatar

The major bailout legislation, like the wars, was Bush’s baby.

Nullo's avatar

@janbb
War budgets are not printed on the front page of the newspaper, nor are they slung around the talk shows, the radio, and the Internet. On top of that, war is a time-honored response to threats. Bailouts? Not so much.

@westy81585 Do you think that the federal government is going to hang on to a discretionary spending freeze for a decade? A bunch that seems to exist to spend money like water?
Still, I think a plane laser would be pretty cool; this is the future, after all.
* Sigh * One more project doomed by the front cover of Popular Mechanics… Maybe they should avoid writing any more cover stories.

Ron_C's avatar

I think it is putting lipstick on a pig. I am pained by this because I am an ardent Obama supporter. He would be much better vowing to withhold signing budgets with earmarks.

I don’t mind congessmen promoting projects in their districts in spending bills as part of a stimulus package, but they should not be part of the general budget.

Austinlad's avatar

I don’t enough about the details to answer wisely or objectively, but this question does make me wonder…

How would you like to have some 309 million U.S. people weigh in every time you make any decision. many of them less informed than I?

Ron_C's avatar

@Austinlad it’s the nature of the democracy we are now losing. Nobody has all the answers but everyone has an opinion. That is what makes democracy work.

Austinlad's avatar

@Ron_C, that’s the theory, but I don’t think it’s making democracy work very well at all. Everybody has his say in Congress, for example, and look at all the initiatives that stall. I’m not advocating people shouldn’t express opinions; I’m advocating that they know what they’re talking about before they do.

Ron_C's avatar

@Austinlad “I’m advocating that they know what they’re talking about before they do.” This is America we’re talking about. None of us will live long enough to see that.

Nullo's avatar

@Ron_C
Didn’t he already vow not to deal with earmarks? Pork, and whatnot?

Mandomike's avatar

Because Obama increased the spending in many of the programs that will be frozen the freeze doesn’t really mean anything at this point, a drop in the bucket at this point.

YARNLADY's avatar

I think he should not only freeze the budget, but give congress the rest of the year off with no pay.

ETpro's avatar

I hope the fire of the economic downturn is almost totally out, because Obama is preparing to pour gasoline on it.

Ron_C's avatar

@Mandomike @YARNLADY It is probably too late for Obama to do anything. If he does this freeze (which will be ineffective), it looks like he’s pandering to the conservatives. If he doesn’t, he looks like he, personally, is spending us into a hole.

What people forget is that the president doesn’t make the budget, the congress does. The president’s only choice is to accept or reject a budget. All spending decisions are made by congress.

It is all moot. by the next election cycle, the majority of congress will be owned and operated by corporate interests.

Ron_C's avatar

@Nullo currrent budget went through with earmarks, not as many as the last Bush budget but it still had them and there is nothing he can do about it.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C And I think it is VERY safe to assume that corporations will favor massive government spending, directed to—guess who…

Nullo's avatar

@Ron_C
Are you sure about the budget process? I thought that the President (and aides, and what) prepared the budget and Congress approved it. One of the few executive powers.

From Wiki:
“The Budget of the United States Government is the President’s proposal to the U.S. Congress which recommends funding levels for the next fiscal year, beginning October 1.”

And “went through with the earmarks” is a whole lot different than “no earmarks.” Bush never made any such promises. Just sayin’.

HankMoody's avatar

@Blondy What do you mean “he can’t be trusted”? Like, he’s the Manchurian Candidate or something? Please clarify, I would love to hear what you think.

Ron_C's avatar

@Nullo the proposed budget seldom looks like anything that congress returns for signature. The congress has all budget authority and authorizes spending. I guess you could say the President proposes, the congress disposes.

Different budgets are also proposed by both sides of the isle. The result is usually a combination of the worst of all three.

Nullo's avatar

@Ron_C
Yay for bipartisanship!

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