There is an overarching reason we can't move toward a balanced budget, which underscores why we face ongoing stalemates over debt ceilings and continuing resolutions: President Obama doesn't want to balance the budget.
I don't say this out of extremism or to be gratuitously controversial or even provocative. It's just that his words and actions lead to the inescapable conclusion that he is unwilling to curb his appetite for big government. In the absence of any such restraint, our alarming budget trajectory cannot be reversed. The debt ceiling may be the last clear chance before the 2012 elections to force meaningful budgetary reforms.
Obama's recalcitrance is rooted in his ideology. He has been working all his adult life toward the moment that he could transform America into a fairer place. He's not about to allow an existential threat to the nation get in the way of his obsession.
Perhaps he wishes he'd acceded to the presidency when our debt picture was less calamitous. Then he might have more leeway to work his despotic magic. Then again, probably not; without the mainly Democratic-caused housing crisis falling into his lap just in the nick of time, he might not have been elected, much less positioned to make the ludicrous demand that we spend nearly $1 trillion more to "stimulate" ourselves out of debt. Alinskyite revolutionaries feed on crises, real and perceived.
Obama fundamentally rejects the American ideals of economic liberty and equality of opportunity. He's determined to use government to redistribute and equalize incomes (and wealth, truth be told), and neither the Constitution nor catastrophic debt consequences will deter him.
He doesn't even appear worried about the debt itself, only the hassle he's getting from Republicans who are getting in the way of his spending and tax hikes. When most Americans are worried sick over our nation's finances, Obama is lecturing us about people who "keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income that (they) don't need," as if the chief executive were the grand arbiter of income distribution. The Heritage Foundation reports that Obama is "creating a new 'poverty' measure that deliberately severs all connection between 'poverty' and actual deprivation." His "goal is to measure income 'inequality,' not poverty — giving the President public relations ammunition for his 'spread-the-wealth' agenda." Just so ... just so.
There's more. Obama is fond of invoking false consensuses in support of his policies, but there truly is widespread agreement that raising taxes during very tough economic times would impede recovery. Obama himself gave voice to that very axiom in 2009, saying, "The last thing you want to do is to raise taxes in the middle of a recession, because that would just suck up, take more demand out of the economy."
But now, perhaps realizing he might not get another chance to coerce the Congress into hiking taxes (as a matter of "fairness"), he's holding the debt ceiling hostage to his demands.
Worst of all is Obama's resistance to entitlement reforms. At a time when everyone acknowledges that our current entitlement programs are unsustainable, Obama refuses to offer a specific plan to reform them and adamantly opposes credible Republican plans to do so.
Also, Obama rarely speaks with any urgency about spending cuts; his emphasis is always that we can't unduly cut programs for "folks" who rely on them, flagrantly turning on its head the JFK maxim, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
While Republicans are pleading with Obama to join them on Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to cut spending and reform entitlements, Obama is clinging to his demand for the high-speed rail boondoggle. When health care costs are soaring and revised scoring of Obamacare reveals just how prohibitively costly it will be, Obama holds on to it like a life raft and pushes the rest of us off. It will destroy access, quality and cost, but he will not betray his ideology.
Just as his party abrogated its duty to propose a congressional budget for 800 days, Obama refuses to provide specifics for cutting spending and just tells us what he won't do. You can read the transcripts from his most recent two pressers and find no specifics.
As recently as 2010, Obama's budget more than doubled the national debt and pushed the fiscal year 2011 deficit to a record high of $1.6 trillion with record spending, which exceeded $3.8 trillion. His FY 2012 budget again called for doubling the national debt in five years and tripling it in 10 years — again without even addressing entitlements.
It's simple, really. We have to have structural entitlement reform, major spending cuts and no tax increase-retardants on economic growth to reverse our current course toward national bankruptcy, but Obama steadfastly remains on the wrong side of all these solutions.
David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book, "Crimes Against Liberty," was No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction for its first two weeks. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.DavidLimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.