Great news: Noted deficit hawk to announce three-year freeze in discretionary spending; Update: Dems reject?

posted at 8:36 pm on January 25, 2010 by Allahpundit

We’re not talking actual budget cuts here, just a promise not to make the budget bigger. Or rather, part of the budget. A smallish part. For three years.

Baby steps?

In his budget for Fiscal Year 2011, to be presented on Monday, February 1, President Obama will propose a three-year hard freeze on non-security discretionary spending, to last from 2011 through 2013.

This will save $250 billion over the next decade, senior administration officials told reporters. By 2015, non-security discretionary spending will be at its lowest level as a component of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product in 50 years…

This category – roughly one-seventh of the overall budget, or about 1/3rd of total discretionary spending — is generally what people think about when they say they want Washington, DC, to rein in spending, a senior administration official said. They don’t mean Medicare, Social Security, or defense spending, the official said.

In response to the announcement, Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, “given Washington Democrats’ unprecedented spending binge, this is like announcing you’re going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest. Will the budget still double the debt over five years and triple it over ten? That’s the bottom line.”

It only applies to “non-security” discretionary spending, so the Pentagon is safe for the time being. But to put that $250 billion over 10 years in context, remember: We’re now running monthly deficits of upwards of $200 billion.

A flashback to the first presidential debate:

MCCAIN: How about a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs.

LEHRER: Spending freeze?

MCCAIN: I think we ought to seriously consider with the exceptions the caring of veterans national defense and several other vital issues.

LEHRER: Would you go for that?

OBAMA: The problem with a spending freeze is you’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel. There are some programs that are very important that are under funded. I went to increase early childhood education and the notion that we should freeze that when there may be, for example, this Medicare subsidy doesn’t make sense.

Let me tell you another place to look for some savings. We are currently spending $10 billion a month in Iraq when they have a $79 billion surplus. It seems to me that if we’re going to be strong at home as well as strong abroad, that we have to look at bringing that war to a close.

In fairness, what he’s proposing here isn’t quite an across-the-board hatchet. They only want a spending freeze in the aggregate, so they might increase spending for programs that need more while cutting spending from programs that don’t to arrive at net zero. It’s a bit more scalpel-y than one might think, in other words. But still: A hatchet would have been welcome.

Exit question one: Granted, this is a cynical political move that he almost certainly wouldn’t have made if not for his collapsing support among independents, but even a cosmetic gesture deserves a golf clap, no? Exit question two: So, just as most of the costs of ObamaCare’s first decade wouldn’t start to be incurred until his second term, this freeze would be in effect smack dab during his reelection campaign in 2012, huh? Fancy that.

Update: Alex Conant says it’s kabuki.

This isn’t news. In the budget proposal that President Obama submitted to Congress last year, his budget office already projected actual cuts and freezes in “non-defense” discretionary spending for the next three years. That’s in part because of the huge increase in that area of spending that the President requested (and received) for the current fiscal year. To be specific: FY2009 (President Bush’s last budget) had $589 billion in non-defense discretionary spending. That number jumped to $687 billion in FY2010 (Obama’s first budget), and then drops to $641 billion in FY2011, $622 billion in FY2012 and $625 billion in FY2013. So for the White House to now boast that it will freeze non-defense discretionary spending is hardly news. If anything, it’s backtracking on its earlier plans to actually cut that area of spending.

Update: Nick Rizzuto e-mails to remind me that Democrats were kicking this idea around last week and, as of the morning of the Massachusetts election, had more or less ruled it out. New life, thanks to Scott Brown?

Orszag last year instructed every executive department to prepare three budget requests: one that matches the 2011 spending levels set by the president in his initial budget proposal from early last year; another that would freeze discretionary spending; and a third that reduces spending by 5 percent.

But the Democrats warn that cutting or freezing spending at this point might further damage the economy. The White House should focus instead on spending government dollars to help the economy recover and bring the unemployment rate down from 10 percent, they said.

“We cannot invite a W-shaped recession, or an M-shaped recession,” said Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, when asked by The Hill about a spending freeze.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

Token can begin by keeping Mrs Token out of those expensive (and dreadful) Bob Mackey boutiques for three years.

leftnomore on January 26, 2010 at 1:27 AM

The Americans’ rulers must know quite well that all spending is discretionary. I despise their distinctions.

Kralizec on January 26, 2010 at 1:51 AM

But the Democrats warn that cutting or freezing spending at this point might further damage the economy.

Once again proving that the Democrats know NOTHING about the economy.

Squiggy on January 26, 2010 at 6:42 AM

this is like announcing you’re going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest

A moment of clarity from our fearless feckless leader.

lionheart on January 26, 2010 at 6:53 AM

The kos kids are ABSOLUTELY freaking out over this!

ArmyAunt on January 25, 2010 at 10:43 PM

So is huff po.

OmahaConservative on January 26, 2010 at 7:16 AM

A flashback to the first presidential debate:

I really, really, really hope this gets a lot of play in the press because this is the first thing I thought of when I saw it on HLN this morning. And I was half asleep so maybe an Obamabot will pick up on it since they are always half asleep.

Mr_Magoo on January 26, 2010 at 7:17 AM

The White House should focus instead on spending government dollars to help the economy recover…

When your boat is taking on water, drill a hole in the hull to let the water drain out.

Bruce in NH on January 26, 2010 at 7:59 AM

Body Odor is a moron-…

NRA Lifer on January 26, 2010 at 8:04 AM

In order to get real effect out of this story, you would need to have a unique force for truth, some sort of incorruptible cadre, like a free and unbiased press corps or something…

Jaibones on January 26, 2010 at 8:04 AM

1. What’s the expiration date on this latest B.S?
2. Does he really think he’ll fool people with this…..how stupid does he think we are?

olesparkie on January 26, 2010 at 8:14 AM

Americans are not only getting wise to but tired of this simpletons lame excuses and plans. The same goes for the morons he brought from Chicago and Illinois. Just as the media couldn’t control his fall in the polls and the election in VA, NJ and MA, they will not be able to stop his failures. He is totally incompetent and was elected on a synpathy vote in large.

bluegrass on January 26, 2010 at 8:16 AM

Im in favor of freezing foreign aid too. They all hate us..so why give them aid?

becki51758 on January 26, 2010 at 8:30 AM

Working for the federal government, this is rather… interesting. Cutting discretionary spending is dubious and nebulous. “Discretionary” spending can mean a number of things to different agencies throughout the government. Many people are hired to new gov’t jobs through monies in “discretionary” spending.

Discretionary spending is monies that are there to use as is seen fit. They can lay off people when there aren’t enough dollars in the discretionary spending account (it actually does happen on occasion–you just don’t hear about it because it’s ignored by the MSM). Could this be a way to set a hiring freeze? This might be interesting to watch. If ObamaCare passes, then depending on which dept gets it (most likely FDA, but that’s just my guess at this point), depending on if salaries are under the “discretionary” label or not, they may not have the money available to hire people to oversee the mountain of red tape that ObamaCare will incur.

Granted, this isn’t necessarily true for every gov’t dept. But I’m betting the ones that have salaries under the “discretionary” umbrella are browning their drawers right about now. Especially ones who have new projects coming down the pike, and they need more hands on deck to ensure that those projects are successful.

jedijson on January 26, 2010 at 8:33 AM

Like irritated animals he’s going to throw the public a few scraps and hope they stop biting at his ankles. This pandering, child like behavior towards the people is despicable.

rplat on January 26, 2010 at 8:54 AM

Oh come on now, is there seriously one single person here who thinks the budget, ANY PART of it, will “freeze”? There is no way these clowns are ever gonna actually freeze spending on anything, such terms and phrases aren’t in their vocabulary. For any freeze or cut they might propose, there are at least 3 different interest groups that will howl like stuck pigs, and they are beholden to every single one of them. Period.

runawayyyy on January 26, 2010 at 9:35 AM

From Google news.
Indonesia says it will remove an Obama statue because;

“Barack Obama has yet to make a significant contribution to the Indonesian nation. We could say Obama only ate and s (expletive) in Menteng. He spent his subsequent days living as an American,”

Cybergeezer on January 26, 2010 at 9:39 AM

Now just wait a dag gum minute. We’re talkin about a Nobel Prize winner here. Show some respect!

sdd on January 26, 2010 at 9:44 AM

Looks like OClueless is finally fulfilling one of his promises–I finally feel “hope” for a “change” for the first time since he was elected…

lovingmyUSA on January 26, 2010 at 10:14 AM

The kos kids are ABSOLUTELY freaking out over this!

ArmyAunt on January 25, 2010 at 10:43 PM
So is huff po.

OmahaConservative on January 26, 2010 at 7:16 AM

I dont have the stomach to look, could you guys expand on this?

JusDreamin on January 26, 2010 at 10:21 AM

“We cannot invite a W-shaped recession, or an M-shaped recession,” said Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, when asked by The Hill about a spending freeze.

Eee gads, these guys are just making sh!t up as they go now.

JusDreamin on January 26, 2010 at 10:24 AM

We cannot invite a W-shaped recession, or an M-shaped recession,” said Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Appropriations

No need to worry, it hasn’t actually gone up, Mr. Oliver. The propaganda recovery is a cruel HOAX perpetrated by you and your clown leader.

dogsoldier on January 26, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Uh… who remembers the PR firm that the Obama Whitehouse hired that said the American people were easily misled when confronted with large numbers?

DANEgerus on January 26, 2010 at 10:56 AM

Can we just call it an O-shaped ‘recovery’ now? Because all this president does is talk in circles.

leftnomore on January 26, 2010 at 1:04 PM

“Just words, just speeches.” Obowma’s words during the primaries.

Watch his actions and don’t believe his lies.

dthorny on January 26, 2010 at 2:06 PM

Barry raised non-security discretionary spending by 8 % and 12% last year on 2 separate occasions, it is rich for him to pronounce a freeze at this elevated level.

bayview on January 26, 2010 at 9:03 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3