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President’s Budget Hit on Critical Programs, Miss on Deficits

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Washington, D.C.Steve Bell, senior director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, made the following statement on President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

“President Obama’s FY2017 budget signals another missed opportunity to fundamentally change the direction of federal deficits and soaring federal debt. Yet one can hardly blame the president, since Congress has quietly ignored the federal budget’s realities for several years. Neither wants to reform Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other entitlements.

“The president’s budget shows a baseline FY 2017 deficit of $612 billion, while the national debt now has passed the $19 trillion mark. That deficit projection is now $65 billion higher than OMB’s FY 2017 projection from just last year.

“President Obama has proposed to pay for many of his new spending initiatives by offsetting them with new taxes on the wealthy and a proposed $10 per barrel tax on crude oil. Among the new initiatives are lengthening the period in which the federal government will pay 100 percent of state Medicaid costs for newly eligible individuals in states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, a $1 billion cancer initiative emphasizing expansion of the use of innovative medical technology and data sharing, and new infrastructure spending.

“The president’s proposal also lifts the sequester spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act. Reversing these harmful cuts to some essential domestic progams and national defense is a step in the right direction toward making investments in our future.

“Yet, as every serious budget analyst has noted for decades, the largest portion of the federal budget, and the fastest growing, are the entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The president’s budget proposals ignore any fundamental changes in these areas and we presume that Congress will continue its practice of failing to address these in any meaningful way this legislative year.

“Both the president and Congress are whistling past the debt graveyard as they continue to pretend that no economic reckoning will happen on their watch. Americans should call for leadership in Congress and the White House so that we don’t leave these important issues for the next generation.”