One would expect that the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget would know whether the White House’s budget increases the deficit. You’d also expect him to know by how much.
Well, meet Jeff Zients, acting director of the Office of Management & Budget. During a Congressional hearing on Thursday, he was unable to answer these questions because “there are a lot of numbers there.”
“Your budget increases the deficit by $8.2 trillion over ten years, yes or no?” asked Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) during the hearing.
“I need to check the numbers,” Zients responded. “There are a lot of numbers there. What I can tell you is we should focus on — this is exactly what Bowles-Simpson does and other groups. What is the deficit as a percent of our economy? We are less than 2 percent at the end of the window, at 1.7 percent.”
Sen. Sessions had to remind (explain?) Zients that the White House’s latest budget does indeed raise taxes by $1 trillion and increase spending “by almost that same amount, virtually having no deficit reduction”:
Here are some of the key proposals included in President Obama’s 2014 budget:
- $3.77 trillion in spending
- $744 billion deficit
- $580 billion in net revenue from higher taxes on wealthy income earners
- $50 billion in road repair and mass transit spending
- $210 billion in expected savings from lower interest payments
- Free and universal access to pre-kindergarten for all four-year-olds
- $400 billion in health care cuts, primarily through higher costs imposed on doctors, hospitals and drug companies
- $1 billion to launch “a network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes across the country,” as the Associated Press puts it, “and it earmarks funding to support high-speed rail projects.”
- Expected revenue from the so-called “Buffett Rule,” which would require households with annual income over $1 million pay at least a 30 percent tax rate after charitable deductions.
- $200 billion in new discretionary spending cuts divided equally between defense and non-defense programs.
- A 20 percent increase in what we can refer to as the “charity tax,” according to Forbes’ Howard Husock.
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