Monday, February 14, 2011

Goldilocks And The Obama Budget

Today the Obama administration sent the House a $3.73 trillion budget proposal which would give the United States a first ever four consecutive year run of trillion plus deficits. Like Goldilocks and the beds in the three bears’ house, Congressional Republicans characterize the administration’s proposed spending cuts as too soft, Congressional Democrats say they are too hard, and the Obama White House says they are just right. By the time appropriations legislation passes through the Capitol, however, it won’t likely look like a bed at all. The White House proposal falls far short of Obama’s blue ribbon deficit commission’s recommendations for a $4 trillion deficit reduction.

The Obama budget proposal goes nowhere near the entitlement “third rail” of electoral politics. And, it contains a mixed bag of the bitter and the sweet for the construction sector of our economy. On the positive side, Obama proposes doubling the nation’s share of clean energy electric power by 2035; building high speed internet connections to reach 98% of American homes and businesses; $328 billion in additional funding for transportation infrastructure construction, from sources other than motor fuel taxes; and dropping cap and trade taxes on greenhouse gas emissions. In the negative ledger column, the budget would eliminate home mortgage interest deductions for households with income more than $250,000; $1 billion reduction in grants for airport construction; and another billion dollars cut from water treatment and other infrastructure construction programs.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R. Wis.) is expected to unveil an alternative budget in April that will take a meat axe to entitlement spending. House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D. Md.) defended the administration’s proposal: “Compared to the slash and burn Republican approach, [the administration’s] budget positions the president as offering a responsible approach to deficit reduction.
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