A budget is a list of priorities, a collection of expenses and savings united by a goal and a vision. In an election year, it is also a declaration of principles that highlights differences with an opponent.
The White House’s budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 is all that and much more. It is an ambitious proposal to invest in human and physical infrastructure, in job training and repairs of bridges and roads. The cost of all this will be offset by allowing the tax breaks for the wealthiest to expire and significantly increasing capital gains taxes. The budget is a call from a government interested in promoting necessary changes to do what is needed for the common good, which the private sector is not doing on its own.
This proposal clashes with the Republican idea of smaller government using federal spending cuts and job creation through deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthiest. Meaning, the same policy that has prevailed for the past 30 years. Therefore, it wouldn’t be unusual for the House of Representatives to disregard the president’s budget and obstruct the implementation of his proposal in Congress.
It is outrageous for political resentment to prevent the two majority parties from working together, at least on their common points, for the good of Americans at this difficult time. Destructive polarization is an ill that has paralyzed Washington.
On the other hand, this budget also has the taste of an unfulfilled promise, since in 2009 Obama promised to halve the deficit by this time in his term. Back then, it was difficult to calculate the extent of the economic crisis. However, although the new budget maintains the same $1.3 trillion deficit as in 2009, this number today represents 8.5% of the gross domestic product compared to 9.2% three years ago.
The likelihood of Congress approving this budget is very remote. We hope Americans do not end up being held hostage by intransigence like in the past, and a negotiated budget is passed.
Regarding the vision for the future of the United States, in November voters will have the last word.