Why Wait to Cut Spending?

PrintPrint

President Obama has instructed federal agencies to come up with spending cuts equal to five percent of their discretionary budgets for fiscal year 2012. The 2012 fiscal year doesn’t begin until October 2011. Why wait ?

Obama recently requested

“enhanced” rescission power, which would give him a stronger tool to eliminate spending that he considers unnecessary. In asking Congress to give him this tool, the president mentions his efforts to cut “wasteful” spending: 

In addition, my Administration undertook a line-by-line review of the Budget, and put forward approximately $20 billion of terminations, reductions, and savings both for Fiscal Year 2010 and 2011.  While recent administrations have seen between 15 to 20 percent of their proposed discretionary cuts approved by the Congress, for FY 2010, we worked with the Congress to enact 60 percent of proposed cuts. 
If the administration has already taken a “line-by-line review” of the federal budget, then shouldn’t it be able to cut agency budgets by five percent in the upcoming fiscal year 2011?
 
The administration says that it has had a better success rate when working with Congress to enact proposed cuts. Okay, then why not use that good working relationship with Congress to propose those cuts now?
 
After all, the president can still use his regular rescission authority to propose cuts to Congress. The House Republican leadership has sent the president two letters asking him to use his rescission authority to submit cutting proposals to Congress. The president has thus far declined.
 
Is the House Republican leadership engaging in a bit of gamesmanship? Sure. According to the Government Accountability Office, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, didn’t submit any rescission proposals to Congress either. Considering the massive spending spree Bush went on, it might have been nice.
 
But continuing George Bush’s bad habits isn’t an excuse for Obama’s inaction. It appears that the president simply doesn’t want to embarrass spendthrift Democrats with uncomfortable votes to cut spending when fall elections are just around the corner. Instead, Obama is content to continue running up trillion dollar deficits and hoping that an angry electorate is appeased by disingenuous promises to cut “wasteful” spending in the future.