Obama’s budget plan too timid

Guest Editorial
Imagine your household income is $50,000 each year, plus you owe that much on your credit cards and your debt is growing by another $5,000 each year. What would you do?

Here’s one approach for this fictional household: Keep racking up the red ink. By 2017, the credit-card debt would be a staggering $75,000.

This, effectively, is President Obama’s approach to federal spending. His budget, released Monday, is a blueprint for personal bankruptcy — and no way to run a country.

The best anyone can say for the president’s budget plan is that it slows the rate of spending. It also calls for some politically difficult cuts that would be felt here in Michigan. Our Community Action Agency would lose some funding. So would Great Lakes cleanup. So would college students taking out loans.

Still, he doesn’t go far enough. Not remotely. Just three months after an electoral landslide, just two after a bipartisan debt commission finished work, Obama is putting the brakes to a movement that calls for Washington to stop spending wildly.

The failing in the president’s budget is that it is timid. He offers no changes to runaway spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These entitlements stand to eat up a bigger and bigger share of federal spending. The debt commission plainly spelled out the need for action; Obama’s spending plan does not.

The president has defended himself by shunting the workload to Congress. He noted Tuesday that most major tax or budget deals do not start in the Oval Office, but out of coalitions on Capitol Hill.

Indeed, he may be right. A bipartisan group of senators is working to turn the debt commission’s recommendations into legislation. Tea party members in the House are pushing Republican leaders for deep but necessary spending cuts.

Maybe a real push for spending reform will emerge in Washington. It isn’t coming yet from the White House.