[This article has been updated with a response from Sen. Sessions to the State of the Union speech, delivered to the media shortly on Tuesday night. Jump to Sen. Sessions’ remarks.]
As Pres. Barack Obama prepared to address the nation and advocate a new wave of increases in federal government spending in the midst of an economic crisis, state governments are already taking a more responsible approach to reining in budgets, according to an analysis released today by Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee.
Over the past two years, on average states cuts government spending by 10% while federal government spending surged upward by 16%. The trend to cut spending at the state level is not partisan, either, the report maintains. Republican governors cut spending by an average of 12% compared to 8% in states with Democratic chief executives.
Senate Budget Committee ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has been vigilantly keeping a hawk’s eye over the President’s fiscal behavior since being appointed to the committee last year and today suggested in a USA Todayop-ed that the consequences of Obama’s continued irresponsible budgeting could be dire for the majority of Americans.
Sessions points to a stunning benchmark that is unlikely to appear on White House communications concerning tonight’s speech – 1,000 days since the U.S. Senate last created a budget plan – as evidence that the plight of the middle class may be a talking point in the President’s speeches, but has not been a priority in his marching orders to the Democrat-led upper chamber. From the USA Today piece:
“In the absence of difficult, necessary, long-term reform, we have instead seen a non-stop cycle of short-term stimulus that drives up the debt. …
For American households, median income fell to $49,445 in 2010. Adjusted for inflation, this is a level not seen since 1996. Middle-class income has declined 7% over the past 10 years, while total federal spending has nearly doubled.”
Sessions also identifies the Democrats’ health care law as perhaps the most pressing threat to the middle class:
“President Obama’s health law only adds to the pain. It will grow the debt by $700 billion over 10 years and, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, result in the loss of 800,000 jobs. …
The president says it’s a ‘make-or-break moment for the middle class.’ That is surely correct. The question is, will the president now set aside the policies that have damaged the middle class while expanding the government? Will he aggressively pursue policies that will actually reduce debt and create good jobs in the private sector?”
UPDATE: Sen. Sessions delivered the following statement to the press following the President’s speech:
“It was stunning how thoroughly and deliberately the president ignored the ominous threat hanging over this country—our surging $15 trillion debt. I stand ready, eager, and willing to work with the president on a real, honest agenda of government reform, but unfortunately, tonight’s speech was more campaign plan than reform plan. America is in stormy waters, but instead of mapping a course to calmer seas, the president is already focused on his next voyage.
President Obama has again crowned himself the champion of the middle class, but from his perch in Washington he cannot see that by growing the government he is actually shrinking the middle class. Who has received the benefit from the nearly $5 trillion he’s added to the debt—middle class Americans whose wages are falling, or political class elites with power and influence? When power centralizes in Washington, those with the most access—like Warren Buffett—stand to make the most profit.
The president talks of energy production, but he remains wedded to policies that have given billions to companies like Solyndra while blocking good-paying private sector jobs such as those that would have been created through the Keystone pipeline. He talks of standing up for American manufacturing, but despite encouraging talk on confronting China, he has yet to follow through, or to untie the endless red tape that is undermining our ability to compete. He talks about ‘fairness,’ but his health law has been a hammer blow to working Americans, with the average family of four watching their health expenditures rise at year’s end $2,400 from the day the law was passed. He talks about tax reform, but instead of delivering a bold growth plan he calls for tax hikes that will only bail out the big spenders.
I was disappointed that the president’s speech made no commitment to achieving meaningful deficit reduction beyond that which was enacted last year. Experts agree that $4 trillion in savings is a minimum—with almost $45 trillion in projected spending over the next 10 years, surely we can now achieve at least another $2 trillion in spending cuts. But it appears that the president believes about roughly $2 trillion in savings against as much as a $13 trillion projected debt increase represents the total cuts that are needed. Meanwhile, instead of using the overseas drawdown to reduce our enormous borrowing, the president plans to use half of it as new spending.
While long on generalities, the plan described in his speech doesn’t change the nation’s dangerously unsustainable debt path. He proposes no real action to put Social Security and Medicare on sound footing, or to reform the often overlooked $800 billion in other entitlement spending—including $700 billion in federal welfare spending—which hasn’t been seriously addressed in years.
Most fundamentally, the president did not rise to the moment in facing the great challenge of our time. In this, perhaps his last chance to rally the public behind needed fiscal reform, he once again failed to look the American people in the eye and tell them truth about America’s enormous debt and the depth of change we need. One cannot make a nation ‘built to last’ on borrowed money.”