NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Many Americans breathed a sigh of relief Friday night as legislators came to a last-minute agreement on a budget to fund the government for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year, thereby averting a government shutdown. But as one fiscal battle comes to a close, an even greater fight is just beginning to heat up.
The debate in Washington is already shifting to next year’s budget, which must be passed in September, and the long-term of goal of reducing our national deficit and bringing the country’s balance sheets back to black. Unfortunately, there’s one big problem: So far, budget proposals from both sides of the aisle fail to accomplish this.
Following the president’s State of the Union address earlier this year, the White House released its budget proposal for the 2012 fiscal year, a plan that pledged to cut $1.1 trillion from the deficit during the next decade. The proposal was ambitious, especially given the fact that government spending – and the national deficit – consistently increased throughout much of the previous decade, both under President Obama and President Bush.
While this was a step in the right direction, even Obama’s budget director admitted the plan was simply a “down payment” and would not be enough to lift us out of the red. For that, more steps would need to be taken down the road.
Not content with this plan, Republicans in Congress have come up with their own initial budget proposal for next year and the decades to come that looks to make more severe cuts and changes to eliminate the deficit. The proposal, crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House budget committee, has earned as much praise as controversy, but for all the buzz around this budget plan, it too falls short.
Ryan initially claimed that his proposal would cut an astounding $5.8 trillion in government spending during the next decade, but nearly a third of that assumes cuts to military spending in the coming years from gradually getting out of the wars we’re involved in, a factor that has little to do with his plan. Instead, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities places the total possible spending cuts specifically from Ryan’s plan at $4.3 trillion, but even this comes with a major caveat.