March 5, 2009
Posted: 07:40 AM ET
Barack Obama won the presidency in large measure because he presented himself as a demarcation point. The old politics, he said, was based on "spin," misleading arguments, and an absence of candor. He'd "turn the page" on that style of politics.
Last week's presentation of his budget shows that hope was a mirage.
For example, Mr. Obama didn't run promising larger deficits - but now is offering record-setting ones. He'll add $4.9 trillion before his term ends and $7.4 trillion if given a second, doubling the national debt in five years and tripling it in 10. Mr. Obama's deficits will be much larger than he admits because he relies on rosy economic assumptions and gimmicks that mask spending and debt (like assuming popular new programs he supports won't be renewed).
Nor did Mr. Obama run promising more earmarks. Instead, he said he'd reform the earmark culture and "scour the federal budget, line by line, and make meaningful cuts." Now he wants to wave through a $410 billion omnibus spending bill with about 8,500 earmarks. This is on top of the $787 billion stimulus bill signed into law two weeks ago.
His justification comes to us from the White House's budget director, Peter Orszag, who recently called the omnibus spending bill "last year's business." But it will fund the federal government for the next six months. Mr. Obama could veto the legislation or push congressional Democrats to ditch the earmarks. But he has given little indication that he will do either.
Filed under: Karl Rove
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