Any good book needs a villain, and President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget was quick to try to identify one.
It was right on the title page above the words 2010 Budget: “A New Era of Responsibility.”
Take that, George W. Bush.
“For too long our budget has not told the whole truth about how precious tax dollars are spent,” Obama said in remarks ahead of the release of his $3.55 trillion spending blueprint, which projected a huge $1.17 trillion deficit.
“Large sums have been left off the books, including the true cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that kind of dishonest accounting is not how you run your family budgets at home. It’s not how your government should run its budgets either,” he said.
A senior official at the White House budget office, speaking anonymously, jumped on the bandwagon.
“We’ve inherited a real mess, both fiscally — a trillion dollar deficit — as well as an economic issue, which is severe economic downturn,” the official said. “These are the result of a profound irresponsibility, misplaced priorities and mistaken policies.”
Hostile fire rarely goes unanswered.
“Trying to mask huge spending increases under the cloak of ‘fiscal responsibility’ is the height of audacity,” said Tony Fratto, Bush’s former White House spokesman specializing on economic issues.
“Our budgets were honest, open and transparent. Every dime spent was presented, debated, voted on and counted.”
“Putting temporary war spending in supplemental budgets was done to avoid permanently baking those appropriations into the Defense Department’s baseline budget,” Fratto added.
“That’s good budgeting, not a ‘gimmick.’”
Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner listens to Obama make budget remarks); Reuters/Stelios Varias (OMB employee Dennis Johnson sits behind a stack of copies of Obama’s 2010 budget)