President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.73 trillion budget Monday that holds out the prospect
of eventually bringing deficits under control through spending cuts and tax increases
. But the fiscal blueprint largely ignores his own deficit commission's plea
to slash huge entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.
Overall, Obama proposed trimming the deficits by $1.1 trillion over a decade although his changes would actually add to the deficits this year and next. Obama is projecting the deficit will hit an all-time high of $1.65 trillion this year
and then drop sharply to $1.1 trillion in 2012, with an expected improvement in the economy
and as reductions in Social Security withholding and business taxes expire.
Obama's 2012 budget would actually add $8 billion
to the projected deficit for that year because the bulk of the savings he will achieve through a freeze in many domestic programs would be devoted to increased spending
in areas Obama considers priorities, such as education, clean energy and high-speed rail.
Obama's deficit commission made a host of painful recommendations including raising the Social Security retirement age and curbing benefit increases, eliminating or sharply scaling back popular tax breaks, reforming a financially unsound Medicare program
and almost doubling the federal tax on gasoline. Obama included none of these proposals
in his new budget. The deficit panel called for savings by making these politically tough choices of $4 trillion over a decade, four-times the savings that Obama is projecting
Of the $1.1 trillion in deficit savings that Obama is projecting over the next 10 years, two-thirds would come from spending cuts including $400 billion in savings from a five-year freeze on domestic programs that account for one-tenth of the budget. The other one-third of deficit savings would come from tax increases
such as limiting the tax deductions for high income taxpayers, a proposal that Obama put forward last year only to have it rejected by Congress
. Obama also proposes raising taxes on energy
The president's projected $1.65 trillion deficit for the current year would be the highest dollar amount ever
, surpassing the $1.41 trillion deficit hit in 2009. It would also represent 10.8 percent of the total economy, the highest level since the deficit stood at 21.5 percent of gross domestic product in 1945, reflecting heavy borrowing to fight World War II.
The president's 2012 budget projects that the deficits will total $7.21 trillion over the next decade
with the imbalances never falling lower below $607 billion. Even then that would exceed the deficit record before Obama took office
of $458.6 billion in 2008, President George W. Bush's last year in office.
[T]o achieve the lower deficits required the administration to assume the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would fall to $50 billion annuall
y after 2012. The budget also fails to pay for the cost of keeping payments for doctors
after 2013. Obama's budget also makes assumptions about economic growth that are more optimistic
that many private economists.