One of the major announcements that President Obama made in his recent State of the Union Address was that he would freeze federal spending on nondiscretionary programs in the budget. In other words, there would be no increases in spending on anything aside from defense, homeland security, international affairs, and mandated programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
It is estimated that this measure would save $250 billion over the next decade. But while it is a positive gesture, it is still only a gesture. The vast bulk of the federal budget is spent on defense, mandated programs, and paying interest on the debt, and none of these will be affected by the spending freeze.
To get serious about the fiscal crisis facing our country, we need more than just gestures. We need effective national leadership. Both parties are clearly blind on this issue, with the Democrats remaining obsessed with increased spending while the Republicans remain obsessed with lower taxes. In order to even begin to solve the problem, a Balanced Budget Amendment needs to be passed, massive reductions in our military spending need to be made, the mandated programs need to be reformed (which will be a painful process), and much if not most of the discretionary programs need to be abolished, rather than merely having their funding frozen.
Whether the political leadership in Washington has the courage to do what is necessary remains to be seen. Recent events are not encouraging in this regard.