Budget Background

“It’s irresponsible, it’s wrong, it’s a failure of leadership, it’s absent without leave… Can you imagine the greatest threat to our country, dwarfs any other problem this nation has… and the president’s not providing any leadership? The commander-in-chief is absent from battle.” – Ranking Member Jeff Sessions, interview on FOX News

January 25, 2011 – In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposes freezing “annual domestic spending for the next five years.” This freeze would lock in elevated spending levels (24 percent non-defense discretionary, not including stimulus) and produce an estimated $3.8 trillion in deficits over the period in question.

February 14 – President Obama proposes a budget with $8.7 trillion in new spending (CBO’s re-estimate actually finds $9.6 trillion in new spending).

February 15 – The House of Representatives begins debate on a bill that would cut spending by $61 billion. President Obama promptly issues a veto threat.

April 11 – Press Secretary Jay Carney: “We should move quickly to raise the debt limit and we support a clean piece of legislation to do that.”

April 13 – President Obama delivers a speech where he lays out a “framework” that he claims will lead to $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10–12 years. In reality, using OMB’s own numbers, deficits under the “framework” are $3.2 trillion higher than the president’s own fiscal commission.

April 15 – The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passes its budget, which cuts $6 trillion in comparison to the President’s budget.

April 19 – S&P assigns a negative outlook to the U.S. credit rating, signaling at least a one-in-three likelihood that the agency will lower the nation’s long-term rating.

May 1 – Total federal spending since President Obama took office reaches approximately $8 trillion.

May 11 – Austan Goolsbee, chair of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, says it is “quite insane” to tie spending cuts to the debt limit increase.

May 17 – Chairman Conrad continues to delay the unveiling of his latest secret budget, announcing that “I’ll say something later — not today, probably… There are a lot of conversations under way.”

May 18 – Majority Leader Reid says it would be “foolish” for Senate Democrats to offer a budget.

May 19 – Chairman Conrad announces he will not reveal a budget to the public until after the Gang of Six produces a proposal.

May 25 – The Senate rejects President Obama’s budget by a vote of 0-97.

May 23 – Senator Schumer, when asked why there is no alternative to the House-passed budget, answers, “To put other budgets out there is not the point.”

June 7 – Even some Senate Democrats become anxious about their party’s lack of a budget.

June 29 – Chairman Conrad tells Politico, “Senate Democrats have reached an agreement on a plan — just now — and we’ll be putting that out sometime soon.” (Note: the plan was never made public, but a leaked outline revealed that it contained as many as $2 in tax hikes for $1 in spending cuts.)

July 1 – Sessions and Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch ask the president to reveal, in detail, what his deficit reduction plans actually are. No response is received.

July 8 – On the 800th day since Senate Democrats passed a budget, the unemployment rate rises to 9.2 percent (the third straight month above 9 percent).

July 19 – Amid continuing calls for the president to reveal what spending cuts he actually supports, Carney says that “leadership is not proposing a plan for the sake of having it voted up or down…”

July 22 – At a press conference discussing his position on negotiating a debt limit increase, President Obama declares, “The only bottom line that I have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election, into 2013.”

August 2 – Following passage of the debt limit increase package in the Senate, President Obama calls for America to “live within our means” immediately before advocating a further increase in government spending, framed, as usual, as “investments.”

August 3 – Government borrowing tops 100 percent of GDP as the U.S. accumulates $4 trillion in gross debt under President Obama, well above the 90-percent threshold identified by economists Rogoff and Reinhart as when debt harms economic growth and brings down job creation.

August 5 – S&P downgrades the U.S.’ credit rating from AAA, the first time the nation has had less than the top rating since receiving it in 1917.

September 8 – Shortly after the passage of the debt limit deal and the spending cuts that went with it, President Obama announces a second stimulus bill that would cost $447 billion. CBO later admits that stimulus spending depresses long-term economic growth.

September 18 – President Obama unveils a deficit reduction plan that he claims will reduce deficits by $3 trillion through a combination of tax increases, war savings, and other spending cuts. But a Budget Committee analysis reveals that, thanks to a number of budget gimmicks, the plan would reduce deficits by only $1.4 trillion and would rely entirely on tax increases. David Walker, former U.S. Comptroller General, describes the president's plan as "worse than doing nothing."

October 14 – 900 days pass since Senate Democrats last offered a budget plan.

November 7 – The Congressional Budget Office reports that total federal spending increased in Fiscal Year 2011 by $145 billion over the previous year’s level.

November 9 – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi claims that Democrats didn’t pass a budget when they controlled both chambers of Congress because “Republicans would have filibustered it,” but as she should know, budget resolutions can’t be filibustered.

November 11 – As the supercommittee continues its tense negotiations, President Obama departs for a nine-day trip to Bali, Indonesia, and Australia.

November 13 – Supercommittee member James Clyburn, the House Assistant Democratic Leader, says that a draft Democrat proposal has been outlined. A Budget Committee analysis estimates this outlined proposal to contain a dramatic tax increase-to-spending cut ratio of 4:1.

November 16 – On the 931st day since Senate Democrats offered a budget, the U.S. gross national debt tops $15 trillion.

November 18 – In search of common ground, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey puts forward a draft proposal with both spending cuts and tax revenue. Democrats summarily reject the offer.

November 21 – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg chides President Obama, saying that “It’s the Chief Executive’s job to bring people together & provide leadership. I don’t see that happening [with the] SuperCommittee”

November 22 – President Obama places multiple calls, over the course of the month, to European leaders regarding their countries’ debt problems. Meanwhile, Jay Carney says it was “absolutely not” a problem for “him not to have been as involved” with the supercommittee negotiations.

January 24, 2012 - President Obama delivers a State of the Union address that falls on the 1,000th day since Senate Democrats offered a budget plan. Although the president focuses much of his criticism on "the way Congress does its business these days," he neglects to mention Senate Democrats' budget failures.

February 3 - Days after Chairman Conrad promised to hold a budget mark-up in committee, Majority Leader Reid declares that the Senate would not consider a budget for the third straight year.

February 12 - Current White House chief of staff (and former OMB director) Jack Lew falsely claims that budget resolutions require 60 votes to pass the Senate.

February 13 - President Obama submits a budget to Congress that would see the nation accumulate $11 trillion in new gross debt, while at the same time promising that his plan would reduce the deficit by $4 trillion. Committee analysis shows that actual deficit reduction is only $273 billion. Sessions describes the budget as "one of the most spectacular fiscal cover-ups in American history."

February 14 - Appearing before the Budget Committee, Jeffrey Zients, the president's budget director, repeatedly refuses to answer the straightforward question of whether the plan would increase or decrease spending relative to levels set forth in the Budget Control Act. (Eventually, Zients falsely asserts that spending would decrease when in reality, spending under the president's plan increases by $1.6 trillion.)

March 1 - Like every year of his time in office, President Obama ignores the statutory 'Medicare trigger' requiring the submission of a legislative plan to address the program's looming insolvency.

March 14 - Every Republican on the Budget Committee reminds Chairman Conrad that the Congressional Budget Act deadline for passing a budget out of committee is April 1.

March 16 - CBO's re-estimate of the president's budget projects that 2013 will be the fifth straight year with a trillion-dollar deficit.

March 20 - House Republicans unveil their FY 2013 budget; Senate Democrats continue to insist that they do not need to work on a budget plan for the nation.