After engineering an unprecedented spending surge for nearly a year, President Barack Obama now wants to signal that he takes deficits seriously. So this week the White House announced that it is considering creating a commission to figure how to fix the budget mess.
Well, almost. What seems to concern the president is not the problem runaway spending poses for taxpayers and the economy. Rather, what bothers him is the political problem it poses for Democrats.
Last year, Mr. Obama made fiscal restraint a constant theme of his presidential campaign. "Washington will have to tighten its belt and put off spending," he said back then, while pledging to "go through the federal budget, line by line, ending programs that we don't need." Voters found this fiscal conservatism reassuring.
However, since taking office Mr. Obama pushed through a $787 billion stimulus, a $33 billion expansion of the child health program known as S-chip, a $410 billion omnibus appropriations spending bill, and an $80 billion car company bailout. He also pushed a $821 billion cap-and-trade bill through the House and is now urging Congress to pass a nearly $1 trillion health-care bill.
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