Obama's 2012 Budget: Why Federal Spending Needs to Be Raised, Not Cut

The battle cry in Washington today is to cut federal spending now and ask questions later. So, President Obama's proposed $3.7 trillion spending plan for 2012 seeks to slash $1.1 trillion from the deficit over the next decade. But cutting too fast, too deeply may undermine the fragile U.S. economic recovery.

Among the cuts being eyed are $100 billion over 10 years from Pell Grants, which help 9 million students get an education, along with funding for airports and waste-water treatment plants and a five-year freeze on non-security domestic spending. Some taxes would increase for couples earning $250,000 or more. The plan would also ax $78 billion from the Defense budget over the next five years. But it includes increased investments in infrastructure programs such as high-speed rail and education.

"These cuts include many programs whose mission I care deeply about, but meeting our fiscal targets while investing in our future demands no less," Obama says in his budget message. "All told, we have put forward more than 200 terminations and reductions for over $30 billion in savings."

As expected, Republican House Speaker John Boehner argued that the cuts did not go far enough. "The president's budget will destroy jobs by spending too much, taxing too much, and borrowing too much," he said in a statement. "By continuing the spending binge and imposing massive tax hikes on families and small businesses, it will fuel more economic uncertainty and make it harder to create new jobs."

You Can't Cut Your Way to Prosperity

In this case, both Obama and Boehner are wrong. The U.S. doesn't need to spend less. It needs to spend more -- a lot more -- though, of course, not recklessly. Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, figures $300 billion to $400 billion in additional money could be spent between 2011 and 2012. His view is echoed by another liberal, former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who writes:
The Republican bromide -- cut federal spending -- is precisely the wrong response to this ongoing crisis, which is more analogous to the Great Depression than to any recent recession. Herbert Hoover responded the same way between 1929 and 1932. Insufficient spending only deepened the Great Depression.

The best way to revive the economy is not to cut the federal deficit right now. It's to put more money into the pockets of average working families. Not until they start spending again big time will companies begin to hire again big time.

Don't cut the government services they rely on -- college loans, home heating oil, community services, and the rest. State and local budget cuts are already causing enough pain.

Though I believe that government should live within its means, the idea that America can cut its way to prosperity is ludicrous. Every dollar of government spending that gets cut during the slow recovery means less money flowing into the economy. Fewer goods and services are ordered, giving businesses less incentive to hire additional workers. And for those who argue that what should be cut is so-called "wasteful spending," Baker points out that finding government waste isn't as easy as it seems.

"None of the waste stands up there and identifies itself," he says, adding that large amounts of time and energy are expended to uncover relatively small amounts of waste. "Everywhere in the budget you are going to find some amount of waste. It's not really clear that we can reduce more from the current levels."

Indeed, there is remarkably little enthusiasm for tackling the budget deficit. A poll released last week by the Pew Research Center showed that most Americans had little desire to see either cuts in spending or higher taxes. Support for increased defense and environmental protection spending fell, though, as did support for foreign aid.

Mostly, Americans interested in cutting the federal deficit only in the abstract. What they can't do is find much to cut when they are asked for specifics. And with good reason: The government is, for the most part, in the business of doing things that genuinely benefit society -- and in hard times, those are the last things we should cut.

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Absurd!!!!!If government spending brought prosperity we would all be rich....stupid socialist idiots!!!! Small government, private industry, low taxes, and personal responsibility is what brings prosperity to those willing to get off their ass and work!!!!!!!

April 10 2011 at 6:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kitty Katz


Obama and 2012 , another 4 years? I would be concerned and if I were to predict say buy oil futures and you will make a fortune since if this happens the only way the price of oil is going is up fueled by all the hot air being expelled.


April 03 2011 at 12:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is Dear Leader, stupid!

February 16 2011 at 5:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Taxes is not the only reason making it hard to create jobs.. Energy is another huge reason. We dont have enough energy competition to keep prices down. Big Oil N Gas N Coal had been ruling the roost for too long that it may be too late for us to get on the alternate energy band wagon. Look at those heavy traffic created by workers trying to get to work and back home.. how can we keep on creating jobs and making traffic even worse.. No more blaming games.. If you think government is too big, then so is your car, too.. And your house, etc. This is a fact! The rest of the world has smaller amentities than ours. We are energy hogs!!

February 16 2011 at 1:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lots of reports show many billions of dollars lost to defense fraud,tax fraud,medicare fraud,and foreign aid fraud etc... do stand out and have been identified;so after a while we are talking real money.The opinion that it does not pay off to pursue and recover these stolen dollars makes no sense.

February 16 2011 at 1:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Johnathan Berr's article is 180 degrees off target - obviously Berr is an Obama supporter and a raving loon.

February 15 2011 at 11:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If budget cuts are to be made, it appears they won't be in the area of regulation: http://www.pymnts.com/6-5-billion-5-000-staff-could-be-allocated-to-implement-dodd-frank/

February 15 2011 at 10:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


February 15 2011 at 9:08 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Hey Be-otch

Remember the four hundred dollar hammer?

February 15 2011 at 7:26 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Obama is wise he is drawing the republicans in to a trap. 4 more years 4 more years 4 more years. The country will prosper after that.

February 15 2011 at 7:09 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rotondojrr's comment

Was the mid-term shellacking last November part of the grand plan?

February 15 2011 at 11:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply