Congressman Mike Simpson, a senior member of the House Budget Committee, today questioned Acting White House Budget Director Jeffrey Zients regarding President Obama's fiscal year 2013 budget blue print, which was released on Monday.
President Obama's budget, which was widely panned as a campaign document rather than a serious reform proposal, adds $1.3 trillion to our $15.4 trillion national deficit in 2012. It marks the fourth consecutive year the President has offered a budget with a deficit at more than $1 trillion. The largest deficit in history preceding President Obama's term was $459 billion. The budget also made no substantive proposals to deal with Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, three programs that are expanding rapidly, and are eating up larger and larger chunks of our budget, and need real reform.
Simpson opened his questioning by asking Director Zients why the President wasn't ready to have a straightforward conversation with Americans about our spending and debt problems. "What the American people want to know is how much we are going to add to our current deficit if we were going to pass this blue print this year ? How much would (the yearly deficit) be at the end of the ten year cycle ? What will the total deficit be at the end of the ten year cycle, if we adopt the President's spending plan?"
Director Zients responded, "As to the deficit, I don't think you want to look at this in nominal dollars. No one thinks a dollar today is worth a dollar tomorrow. I'd rather have the dollar today than tomorrow. So let's pivot to GDP (gross domestic product) and percentage of GDP."
Simpson interjected, "Nobody cares about that. They care about the dollar amount that you are going to create in deficit spending. Constituents who talk to me don't say, "as a percentage of GDP, what is our debt going to be in ten years?' They say, "How much are we spending, and how much are we going in debt, and are we becoming Greece? This plan is Greece's plan."
Later, Director Zients closed with, "I believe in this country and I believe in our workers and I believe in our competitiveness, and the President's budget supports that," to which Simpson replied, "I believe in this country too, and so does everyone in here. I wished the budget matched your rhetoric that you put forward."