Andrew Sullivan would benefit from a little more perspective, and a little less apocalyptic rhetoric:
In this budget, in his refusal to do anything concrete to tackle the looming entitlement debt, in his failure to address the generational injustice, in his blithe indifference to the increasing danger of default, he has betrayed those of us who took him to be a serious president prepared to put the good of the country before his short term political interests. Like his State of the Union, this budget is good short term politics but such a massive pile of fiscal bullshit it makes it perfectly clear that Obama is kicking this vital issue down the road.
To all those under 30 who worked so hard to get this man elected, know this: he just screwed you over. He thinks you're fools. Either the US will go into default because of Obama's cowardice, or you will be paying far far more for far far less because this president has no courage when it counts. He let you down. On the critical issue of America's fiscal crisis, he represents no hope and no change. Just the same old Washington politics he once promised to end.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Obama's budget lowers deficits enough to stabilize public debt through the decade. In 2019, the debt would represent the same share of the economy as it does in 2013, and would rise by 0.7 percent in 2021. Far from punting the ball to the next president, Obama's budget would prevent a debt explosion, and give policymakers the time and space to craft solutions to the nation's more serious problem: medical costs. Sullivan bemoans the absence of tough choices on entitlements, but the truth is that we have less of a problem with "entitlements" and more of a problem with health care costs. Medical costs are going up faster than inflation, and this affects every federal program that is involved in paying for health care. I have no doubt that Sullivan understands this, as I poached this chart from his blog:
"Over the long run," writes Robert Greenstein, "the largest contribution to deficit reduction likely will need to come from slowing the rate of growth of health care costs throughout the U.S. health care system, in the public and private sectors alike." The Affordable Care Act takes a few steps toward this goal, but there is little else on the horizon that will sharply reduce the growth in health care costs. Indeed, if anything, Sullivan's real beef is with the Republicans and centrist Democrats who watered down the Affordable Care Act's already small steps toward cost-control.
Listen, I'm not happy with this budget. It puts too much on the backs of the least well-off, and asks too little of those who benefit most. And as a statement of the administration's priorities, I'm not comforted by the fact that Obama would rather cut small-bore domestic programs than tackle the Pentagon's monstrous budget. But I also find it hard to look at this budget and come away with the sense that Obama is unserious about the country's fiscal challenges. More-so than almost anyone else in government -- and certainly the Republican Party -- Obama is committed to bringing the budget under control. If Sullivan doesn't see it, he should look closer.