With the president’s State of the Union address coming up on Wednesday, the White House appears to be struggling to find its feet. Republican Scott Brown’s surprise victory in liberal Massachusetts has dominated the national conversation in the last week and made Obama’s goal of signing health care reform impossible before the big speech. Now, even Obama’s apparent attempt to soothe voters’ budget-deficit concerns by proposing a three-year freeze on some federal spending is being met with ridicule from both the right and the left.
The plan Obama will propose breaks down as follows:
- Freeze discretionary spending on non-security-related programs and government agencies whose budgets are set annually by Congress. Affected programs could include subsidies for farmers, child nutrition, and national parks.
- Exempt from the freeze would be budgets for federal entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, as well as the budgets for the Pentagon, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and foreign aid.
The administration claims this will save the country $250 billion over the next decade, or about 3% of the $9 trillion deficits the U.S. is expected to accumulate over that period.
Conservatives have mocked the freeze as not doing nearly enough to get to the root of the country’s economic problems. The right-leaning blog RedState.com chided the effort, saying that it would have “virtually no impact on the financial standing of the United States of America.” On her Twitter page, right-wing commentator Michelle Malkin compared the freeze to “promising to slow down from 250 mph to 249.9.” House Minority Leader John Boehner likened the plan to “announcing you’re going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest.”