The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday March 24th

Obama’s budget proposal designed to shape campaign

WASHINGTON, D.C. (MCT) — President Barack Obama’s proposed federal budget is more campaign commercial than governing document.

His $3.8 trillion budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 — and blueprint for the coming decade — is filled with promises sure to appeal to voters that he wants to win for his re-election in November, such as new spending to hire teachers and tax increases on the wealthy.

Yet it has no chance of passing Congress, where Republicans have already vetoed his calls for more spending and taxes. It offers little prospect of breaking the Washington cycle of lurching from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis with temporary agreements and no consensus on permanent solutions. And it maintains a decade of red ink while putting off until after the election — at the earliest — any detailed proposals to fix long-term problems in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

“It’s not going to be enacted,” said Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan group that advocates fiscal responsibility. “It’s designed to shape the campaign. There’s a lot of spending for new investments and there’s spending caps in the future so he can claim two things at once.”

In his budget, he stressed the need for federal spending to help people get a better foothold in a struggling economy. Among his proposals: a $350 billion plan to stimulate the economy, including many specifics that Congress rejected last year.

Obama used the new budget to portray himself as a deficit hawk, saying he would cut $4 trillion from projected deficits over the next 10 years. However, he and Congress already agreed to $2.1 trillion of that last year when they enacted the Budget Control Act.

Over the coming decade, Obama’s budget would include deficits totaling $6.7 trillion. Including interest, they would increase the debt held by the public from $11.6 trillion in fiscal 2012 to $19.5 trillion in fiscal 2022. It was $7.5 trillion when he took office in 2009.

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