Our View: Budget will check Obama's priorities

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 10:45 AM

Editorial Board

President Barack Obama has many priorities for America. In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night he played long ball with the Republican opposition, throwing out a long, costly laundry list of initiatives he would love to accomplish during his second term.

Some are admirable. We’d like to see initiatives to halt the threat of climate change. We need some sensible gun control measures, as well as immigration reform. The president was correct when he spoke of a future where the U.S. will become more energy independent. That is due to fracking, a cleaner, more efficient method of gathering energy deposits. Not only has the U.S. increased its daily oil output sgnificantly since 2008, carbon emissions have declined as well.

The president is also correct that there needs to be a more sensible alternative to planned automatic sequester cuts scheduled to take place on March 1. The president endorsed tax reform, an idea that Mitt Romney championed last fall. The president also talked about the need to increase the standard of living for Americans. He wants to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2015.

The most important words of his speech, though, were these: “Those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms. Otherwise, our retirement programs will crowd out the investments we need for our children and jeopardize the promise of a secure retirement for future generations.”

It’s good that the president is talking about reforms to entitlements. However, he needs to actually start doing something about reforming Medicare, Social Security and other programs that are causing the debt to grow to $16-plus trillion and higher. The administration has added $7 trillion-plus to the debt. Now members of his own party are beginning to downplay deficits and debt. The latest spin from congressional Democrats is to deny that there is a spending problem, arguing instead that there is a “paying-for problem.”

Here’s the facts, straight from the Office of Management and Budget: Over the next five years, entitlements will cost $10 trillion. If nothing serious is done, the situation will continue to get worse. Living with such massive debt will harm our economy and our future.

If nothing is done about these deficits and the debt, budget woes will check Obama’s vision for the U.S. over the next four years. The growing debt is his chief priority. If he fails to stem it, the country will be worse off when his term ends.

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