President Obama has delivered his address on the 2012 budget. Predictably, conservatives will denounce it as being vague and lacking detail. Sure it was. And predictably, liberals will hail it as giving direction to Congress as to what he will not sign into law in an effort to protect social programs. Surely it did. But the president made it abundantly clear that even cuts to spending in these social programs remain on the table.
All must sacrifice. Last year's continuation of Bush era tax cuts will not be renewed.
Is the executive branch supposed to hammer out the details of all legislation? Isn't that the job of debate among the legislators? Didn't this speech merely kick the can down the road another two years? Perhaps. But the president proposed a mechanism to monitor targets for spending reduction and that if those measures finally selected by the legislature do not meet these targets, tough cuts would kick in so that the can is not kicked again.
He spoke of why he rejected the Paul Ryan plan. It would mean making fundamental changes in Medicare, changes on the funding side without making changes on the cost side. Cost increases have required annual funding increases. Where recently passed health care program changes seek to lay the groundwork for future cost reductions, President Obama made it clear that as long as he is president, reductions in costs will be the focus of health care reform.
Where Secretary Gates has already found $400 billion of unnecessary defense spending, President Obama has called for another $400 billion. The implication is clear. After reviewing Defense Department missions for further cost reductions, eliminating those which appear unnecessary, if an additional $400 billion is not found, costs will be cut anyway.
The president of the United States is commander in chief of the military and the nation's chief executive officer. No good executive officer micromanages his subordinates' duty to accomplish the assigned mission. Today's speech was that of a leader, a commander in chief. The chief has spoken. The cost reduction goals have been assigned. Let the debates amongst the legislators and within the executive branch begin.
Dale Whiting, Chandler