Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Obama's un-serious budget

Here's a Washington Post editorial noting the debt elephant in the room:
The commander in chief ought to argue for the defense spending necessary for national security, regardless of political considerations. The president is entitled, separately, to make his case for more spending on infrastructure, education and other domestic needs. We support both. But he would have more credibility if he acknowledged the underlying cause of the long-term squeeze on both kinds of discretionary spending: entitlement programs which, if unreformed, will channel larger and larger shares of the budget to the older generation, including the well-off, thereby triggering a vicious cycle in which interest payments on the growing national debt also swell. Mr. Obama used at least to acknowledge this as a problem. Now he seems content to leave it in the next president’s in-box.
How much of the budget is going to mandatory spending?  Nearly all of it:
The new budget projects spending $2.548 TRILLION just on MANDATORY programs like Social Security and Medicare. Another $426 billion will be necessary just to pay interest on the debt.

In total, this is over 99% of ALL the tax revenue the government collected in 2014.

In other words, they’ll spend nearly ALL of their current tax revenue before they write a single check for anything we think of as government (like the military, the IRS, or the light bill at the White House).

Naturally they’re not planning on turning off the lights anytime soon. So they finance the rest of it with… debt.
The debt burden is manageable now because of low interest rates.  But this is not going to last forever:
Currently, the government’s interest costs are around $200 billion a year, a sum that’s low due to the era of low interest rates. Forecasters at the White House and Congressional Budget Office believe interest rates will gradually rise, and when that happens, the interest costs of the U.S. government are set to soar, from just over $200 billion to nearly $800 billion a year by decade’s end.
By 2021, the government will be spending more on interest than on all national defense, according to White House forecasts.
I've said this over and over: the United States "government" will be nothing more than a fund-transfer waystation taking funds from taxpayers and forwarding them to seniors, insurance companies, and banks.  That $800 billion/year in interest on the debt doesn't buy us a shiny aircraft carrier or new bridges or even a Post Office jeep - it gets us nothing.  But, as the WashPost notes, that's a can kicked down the road.

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