Will 2012 budget provide strong fiscal turn around?

Tuesday - 2/15/2011, 12:44pm EST

Maya MacGuineas, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Click to hear the interview

Download mp3

By Olivia Branco
Federal News Radio

Much of the analysis of the fiscal 2012 budget has focused on the administration's attempts to reign in spending and bring back fiscal responsibility.

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, joined The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris and discussed her dissatisfaction with whether the budget really reflects those goals.

"I'm afraid that the bottom line is that this budget doesn't go close to far enough in terms of a fiscal turn around that this country really needs right now," MacGuineas said. "What the President does do, which is very helpful is freezing discretionary spending which basically begins the pivot, saying we're done with the period where we add a whole lot of new policies and we particularly don't add ones we don't pay for."

MacGuineas understand the importance of emphasis on domestic discretionary spending, however she believes the President's focus is "mistargeted".

"It's really the smallest area of the budget as opposed to things that are growing very quickly like social security or medicare. And it's not a part of the budget that's squeezing out other areas or putting the pressure on. If we fix the wrong part of the budget, it's not going to be much of a fix at all."

As far as the budget and the deficits are concerned, MacGuineas thinks those deficits are still too high.

"Unfortunately under this budget, we still have deficits that are too high, debt is too high, and nothing that would be come close to sufficient to reassuring credit markets that the U.S. is good for all the borrowing that we plan to do."

So what would MacGuineas like to emphasize?

"You need to focus on the areas of the budget that are growing faster than the economy," MacGuineas said. "You've got your health care programs, you've got your retirement programs....but also retirement benefits for the military for instance."

"Another part of the budget that's growing very very quickly, are spending programs through the tax code, called tax expenditures. They are all the targeted tax breaks...they are very expensive, they cost the government over $1 trillion a year, and they're growing in many cases faster than the overall economy."