They’re not all smoke and mirrors as some are alleging. But you have to understand the budget process to know that. Quin Hillyar explains:
Anyway, yes, the cuts are not of the high quality of cuts we might like. Yes, there are a few which can only be characterized as smoke and mirrors. But no, the bulk of these cuts are not meaningless; most of them actually will keep money from being spent that otherwise would, yes, be spent. In other words, most of the complaints are groundless.
Here’s why. This is an Appropriations bill. Approps bills are primarily expressed through "budget authority," not through "outlays." A project in an Approps bill that receives budget authority in FY 2011 might not actually get spent — there may not be an "outlay" of the full amount — in 2011. If it is a construction project, that will almost certainly be the case. This late in the fiscal year — which began last October 1, and thus is more than halfway over — some of these projects may not even get the contracts signed before the end of the fiscal year. So cutting that project would not cut a single dollar from actual spending this year. But that does NOT — NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT — mean that cutting the project is a waste of time. If the budget authority is removed, it means that the money that absolutely would have been spent in future years now CANNOT be spent, by law. It saves real money.
Hillyar worked on the staff of the House Appropriations Committee during the time Republicans balanced the budget and brought Bubba to the table to sign kicking and screaming all the way (you remember Clinton’s "can’t be done" statement, right?).
More clarity about the process:
The savings are real. It’s the same thing with a lot of the items that critics are calling "smoke and mirrors" just because they don’t cut this year’s outlays. The criticism is utterly ill-informed and baseless.
Granted, there also are accounts that contain leftover money that supposedly wasn’t going to be spent anyway — so in this case, say the critics, cutting the budget authority doesn’t save money; it’s just forcing the official accounting to catch up with the reality of the unspent funds….. Well, yes and no. Or rather, maybe. The dirty little secret about unobligated funds is that many of them are in accounts that aren’t impressively tight. Executive branch bureaucracies, without approval of Congress, often can tap into those funds (in effect) for other purposes, merely by shifting them among accounts. Most funds are fungible. That’s why Sen. Tom Coburn is making such a big deal, overall (apart from this battle), about cutting hundreds of billions in unobligated funds: because as long as they remain on the books, they still can get spent, and in most cases will get spent. Therefore, eliminating the budget authority for these programs does indeed save real money. It’s not just an accounting trick. It takes away all legal authority to spend that money. It means the taxpayers will not be on the hook for the money.
So while maybe not ideal in terms of the amount of “high quality” cuts we would have preferred, believing the narrative that they’re all smoke and mirrors is just wrong. When a program has budget authority, it is funded and those funds will be spent – by someone. That authority has now been withdrawn and thus the ability to spend even a penny of the formerly allocated funds goes with it.
An even better silver lining (again something you have to understand about the process to appreciate the impact):
Also important is that they force the overall spending baseline lower. So much of what happens in Washington budgets involves comparing spending year to year. If you take away budget authority EVEN FOR PROGRAMS THAT NEVER WOULD GET SPENT, you also make the official baseline for future years lower. It thus becomes far harder for the left to demagogue GOP spending proposals, because the proposals will be compared to a lower starting point than they would if the programs in question still remained on the official books. Anybody who doesn’t think this is an important budgetary victory is either ignorant or a fool.
All of these things are important. Removing the budget authority essentially defunds a program, or, as mentioned, stops it in its tracks and removes the money from being available to the program being defunded. It also removes it from the grasping, greedy fingers of bureaucrats ready and eager to take whatever money they can get their hands on and spend it.
Best of all worlds? Probably not. But certainly not at all the worst of all worlds. Anytime we can save money and force the spending baseline lower seems to me to be a victory.
You are President of the United States. All 57 of them. And you have a challenge in front of you. The public is alarmed by the level of government debt and sharply rising deficits. Of course, being a “Constitutional law professor” you know that any action on this must be initiated by the House of Representatives since by law they are charged with the budget and appropriations. But because of a lack of confidence in the leadership of your party, as they held majorities in both chambers of Congress, the House was reclaimed by the opposition party who now enjoys a solid majority there.
So as a leader, you must address the reality of the situation, tone down the partisan rhetoric, make overtures to bipartisan cooperation and attempt to bridge the partisan gap that you and your party have helped create these past two years. Leadership 101.
Instead we got this – POLITICO lays it out for you:
President Barack Obama extended a fiscal olive branch to Republicans on Wednesday.
Then he beat them up with it. Obama’s long-anticipated speech on the deficit at George Washington University was one of the oddest rhetorical hybrids of his presidency — a serious stab at reforming entitlements cloaked in a 2012 campaign speech that was one of the most overtly partisan broadsides he’s ever delivered from a podium with a presidential seal.
I differ with the analysis – it wasn’t a serious stab at anything. No details were present. Just a “framework”, which is Obama’s usual way of laying off responsibility or outsourcing his job to others. His entire first term, to date, has been about grand and nebulous words left to others to flesh out.
But back to the point – as someone, I believe it was Paul Ryan, said, instead of building bridges with his speech, Obama went about poisoning wells.
What he essentially acted like was a Senate back bencher throwing verbal bombs at the opposition. And, of course, if you recall, that’s precisely what he was until he managed to fool enough people into electing him president.
How stupid was it to act as he did this past Wednesday?
But the combative tenor of Obama’s remarks, which included a swipe at his potential 2012 GOP challengers, may have scuttled the stated purpose of the entire enterprise — to start negotiations with Republicans on a workable bipartisan approach to attacking the deficit.
And it didn’t build much goodwill ahead of upcoming fights, especially the looming battle over raising the debt ceiling.
That’s correct – the looming fights have now been made partisan by a president who set the tone. Donald Trump called him the worst president ever (well, unless Donald Trump were to become president that is). I have to agree – and I lived through Jimmy Carter who now seems almost competent in comparison.
Carter at least tried to be a leader. This man makes no attempt at leadership. He’s a hack politician in way over his head and seems to thrive on political one-upsmanship, partisan bickering and playing politics with everything.
Leaders lead. Sounds trite and clichéd, but as was said about porn, you know one when you see one.
I’ve known many leaders in my day, and Mr. Obama is no leader.
Not much new to report – stalemate continues. However what we seem to be finally learning is that the so-called “rebels” aren’t organized enough to do much of anything to force the situation:
Too little is known about Libya’s rebels and they remain too fragmented for the United States to get seriously involved in organizing or training them, let alone arming them, U.S. and European officials say.
U.S. and allied intelligence agencies believe NATO’s no-fly zone and air strikes will be effective in stopping Muammar Gaddafi’s forces from killing civilians and dislodging rebels from strongholds like Benghazi, the officials say.
But the more the intelligence agencies learn about rebel forces, the more they appear to be hopelessly disorganized and incapable of coalescing in the foreseeable future.
However, that hasn’t stopped the rebels from asking for a $2 billion dollar loan from the West. They’re never too disorganized to demand money, are they? Hey, this is the Arab League’s baby – let them front any loans. Oh, and check out this photo for a little picture of the reality we’re talking about.
Meanwhile, NATO could use a few more aircraft:
Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has told a foreign ministers’ summit the alliance needs "a few more" aircraft for its mission in Libya.
Mr Rasmussen said he had received no offers from any ally at the meeting in Berlin to supply the extra warplanes, but he remained hopeful.
I’m sure he does. Of course, this situation has little if anything to do with the stated mission of NATO (a defensive pact), but it is an organization in search of a mission. One of the reasons it has to beg for other participants is there’s nothing binding about war’s of choice on NATO members and, as you might expect, a good number of them ore sitting this one out.
Finally, our leaders fight back with a NYT editorial. Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy have an op/ed there addressing Libya. This particular paragraph caught my eye:
We must never forget the reasons why the international community was obliged to act in the first place. As Libya descended into chaos with Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi attacking his own people, the Arab League called for action. The Libyan opposition called for help. And the people of Libya looked to the world in their hour of need. In an historic resolution, the United Nations Security Council authorized all necessary measures to protect the people of Libya from the attacks upon them. By responding immediately, our countries, together with an international coalition, halted the advance of Qaddafi’s forces and prevented the bloodbath that he had promised to inflict upon the citizens of the besieged city of Benghazi.
Tens of thousands of lives have been protected.
I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but think “jobs created and saved” when I read all of that monkey poo.
Meanwhile in Syria, they’re issuing instructions not to kill over 20 protesters a day because apparently that’s a threshold they know the great protectors of certain civilians will ignore. Besides, some Democrats think Assad is a reformer, and don’t forget, he hasn’t used airplanes on the protesters – yet.
Needs? America needs higher taxes? Really? According to Nicholas Kristof, that’s exactly right:
President Obama in his speech on Wednesday confronted a topic that is harder to address seriously in public than sex or flatulence: America needs higher taxes.
Maybe I get hung up on the meaning of words to darn much but “needs” isn’t one I’d link with “more taxes”.
What America needs is a profligate government to cut spending – dramatically. That’s its primary need right now.
Oh, and check out this bit of lazy and fallacious “correlation is causation” nonsense Kristof runs at those ignorant enough to buy it:
There is no single reason for today’s budget mess, but it’s worth remembering that the last time our budget was in the black was in the Clinton administration. That’s a broad hint that one sensible way to overcome our difficulties would be to revert to tax rates more or less as they were under President Clinton. That single step would solve three-quarters of the deficit for the next five years or so.
The last time our budget was in balance was because a Republican Congress put some budgets together that actually ended up giving us a surplus. What Clinton did was sign the bill. Secondly – it wasn’t because he had high tax rates that the surplus happened. It was because revenue was up from a booming economy.
Kristof goes off into some pretty bizarre thinking out loud in his piece . And he tries to address three “fallacies” used in the discussion today, thinking he bolsters his claim that America needs tax increases (he uses the discredited “Medicare is cheaper to administer than private insurance”. Yeah? And it also has waste, fraud and abuse in the $60 billion range each year – so how cheap is it really?).
• Low tax rates are essential to create incentives for economic growth: a tax increase would stifle the economy.
It’s true that, in general, higher taxes tend to reduce incentives. But this seems a weak effect, often overwhelmed by other factors.
Were Americans really lazier in the 1950s, when marginal tax rates peaked at more than 90 percent? Are people in high-tax states like Massachusetts more lackadaisical than folks in a state like Florida that has no personal income tax at all?
Tax increases can also send a message of prudence that stimulates economic growth. The Clinton tax increase of 1993 was followed by a golden period of high growth, while the Bush tax cuts were followed by an anemic economy.
Back to correlation is causation. High taxes = high growth, low taxes = low growth just because the economic cycles happened to coincide with those particular policies? Of course there are any number of instances when the opposite is true. Again, the Clinton tax hikes were in the middle of a booming economy, so people succeeded despite the government raising taxes. We also know that we were spiraling down economically when the Bush tax rates were enacted. But in neither case did the increase or decrease in taxes have much to do with the overall economy.
As for the “lackadaisical” riff, you’ll have to ask Kristof about that, but here’s a guess – if someone was looking at establishing a business in either MA or FL, given the tax rates, which state do you suppose would find favor (among other considerations) on the pro side of “taxes?”
You have to love the waive off of his initial “it’s true that … higher taxes tend to reduce incentives”. Well, duh! And if taxes are too high people do what? Look elsewhere where the incentives are more positive. So given that which is “true”, tell me again why America “needs” more taxes?
I’ll skip right to the bottom line – Obama’s speech yesterday was an uninspiring restatement of the classic liberal tax and spend ideology that essentially says government is good and big government is better.
Once again to give his “4 trillion in deficit reduction” context “the chart” is offered:
4 trillion still leaves trillions in deficit spending over the next 10 plus years. And notice the trend as we head toward ‘19. That’s right – the impact of ObamaCare. I don’t remember a word about that particular program being on the table. 4 trillion in deficit reduction doesn’t answer the mail as far as I’m concerned because it means we continue to do more deficit spending and roll up more staggering debt. Had he talked about 4 trillion in debt reduction I might have taken him more seriously.
Essentially Obama said the same thing every other big government liberal has said for the decades it has taken us to get in this shape – let us raise taxes to pay for this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into and we promise to make it better. Trust us.
How many times must we hear this before we finally wake up to the fact that it isn’t going to happen that way? Raising the taxes on the rich isn’t going to curb spending. Only curbing spending does that. And while I saw a whole bunch of hand waiving about that in the speech, I’ve seen that in countless other speeches by politicians who claim the same.
Obama’s speech also was an attack on the GOP plan, and an establishment of the “granny will be eating cat food if they get their way” narrative again. Only the left can be compassionate in the proper way. The right? It hates you and wants to kill you.
He even went as far as to call the recent plan by Paul Ryan “unserious”. Obama additionally was completely disingenuous at one point, pretending that the only thing that Republicans were interested in cutting was spending in the “12% discretionary spending” side of things. Of course, as I’ve been telling you, these CRs only address that sector of spending, the rest – entitlements – running on automatic until each are addressed separately.
Obama wants us to believe we can afford everything at about the same level as we have it now if we’ll just tax the rich and “eliminate waste”. Of course his tax the rich plan would add about $32 billion in revenue a year to projected budgets and deficits in the trillions. If you’ve never been a fan of fuzzy math, then don’t take a deep look at Obama’s numbers.
Obama wants to you to believe that we can afford everything. That’s utter nonsense, but what it does is a) establish the ideological basis for the size of government and b) claim that size of government we have now is necessary.
A 70% cut to clean energy. A 25% cut in education. A 30% cut in transportation. Cuts in college Pell Grants that will grow to more than $1,000 per year. That’s what they’re proposing. These aren’t the kind of cuts you make when you’re trying to get rid of some waste or find extra savings in the budget. These aren’t the kind of cuts that Republicans and Democrats on the Fiscal Commission proposed. These are the kind of cuts that tell us we can’t afford the America we believe in. And they paint a vision of our future that’s deeply pessimistic.
Deeply pessimistic or startlingly realistic? I see it as the latter. Let’s just take one issue he mentions above. Education. A “Constitutional” role of government? Not that I know of. And, here’s the reality:
What you see charted there is utter failure. But the cost? Through the roof. We can’t afford a “return on investment” like that – yet Obama is ready to tax the rich and throw even more money down the federal education rat hole. Want to cut the deficit? Cut the Department of Education and leave the schools to the states and local communities. We. Can’t. Afford. It. And obviously big brother hasn’t a clue.
Obama mentions tax reform. But not as you or I would understand it. When most speak of tax reform they’re talking about lowering the rates and broadening the base. That’s not at all what Obama is talking about. Tim Carney analyzes that:
For Obama, there are no rate cuts — in fact, there are rate increases. But more revealing, the only "loopholes" he wants to kill are those with which he disagrees.
Obama has created dozens of tax credits and tax deductions aimed at shaping the economy in his image. Obama’s supposedly "serious" talk about the deficit never proposed to eliminate his own tax credits. He also never touches other tax credits that reward the behaviors he likes, even at the expense of the economy and tax revenue — like the ethanol-blending credit.
Obama clearly sees the tax code not simply as a way to collect revenue, but as a way to modify behavior. The only "loophole closing" he has proposed in recent months is even more discriminatory than the loophole itself: Obama doesn’t want to end the "production tax credit" that applies to coal mining, manufacturing, forestry, and oil and gas drilling — he just wants to kick oil companies out of the club that benefits from this tax credit.
He certainly isn’t proposing an end to tax credits for wind and solar energy or electric cars. These are the "investments" that will help us "win the future."
Maintaining and expanding such favoritism in the tax code — and he’s certain to insist on new and extended tax credits next year — is the opposite of "reform." But using words to mean something they’ve never meant before is standard fare for this administration.
On that score, Obama deliberately conflated spending and tax breaks Wednesday. He called for us to "reduce spending in the tax code."
While "spending in the tax code" might sound odd, it actually exists. For instance, the "Investment Tax Credit" for renewable energy is available to corporations even if they owe no taxes, and is often paid in the form of a check from the U.S. Treasury to those companies that are doing what Obama wants them to do. The Earned Income Tax Credit is the poor-man’s version of this — a welfare payment from the Internal Revenue Service.
But Obama wasn’t talking about eliminating these "tax expenditures." When he spoke of lowering "spending in the tax code," it was in the context of his desire to raise rates for upper-income Americans. Under Bill Clinton, the top tax rate was 39.6 percent, but today it’s 35 percent. That extra 4.6 percent of income that a successful American gets to keep — to Obama that counts as "spending" by the government.
The only way to understand the continued attack on the rich by this administration is found in Carney’s last line – “Obama … counts that as “spending” by the government”. It’s a premise as old as autocratic rulers everywhere – everything belongs to the sovereign (king, state, dictator) and you’re allowed to keep what the sovereign allows you to keep by his or her grace and benevolence.
Taxes should fill a single function – provide the revenue necessary to fund a Constitutional government. What it shouldn’t be is a method of granting favors or “modify behavior”. But that’s precisely what ours has become. Obama is fine with that.
That brings me to the throw away line of the entire speech:
More than citizens of any other country, we are rugged individualists, a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government.
Not if this guy and the left have anything to do with it. In fact Obama spends the entire speech telling us why we’re not self-reliant and need government to save us from ourselves and help us throughout our lives.
It is the usual double-talk combined with classic liberal ideology that says government should play a major role in all our lives and we must make the sacrifices necessary (and collectively) to enable the vision the anointed have set out for us.
Anything else is, well, “un-American”.
Why is it that schools, the supposed bastions of education and purported citadels of tolerance and intelligence are so blasted uneducated, stupid and intolerant?
Latest example? A teenager in Seattle, doing community service work, does a project to hand out to younger children in class. The results? Just fascinating in a bizarre and idiotic sort of way:
"At the end of the week I had an idea to fill little plastic eggs with treats and jelly beans and other candy, but I was kind of unsure how the teacher would feel about that," Jessica said.
She was concerned how the teacher might react to the eggs after of a meeting earlier in the week where she learned about "their abstract behavior rules."
"I went to the teacher to get her approval and she wanted to ask the administration to see if it was okay," Jessica explained. "She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat ‘spring spheres.’ I couldn’t call them Easter eggs."
Rather than question the decision, Jessica opted to "roll with it." But the third graders had other ideas.
"When I took them out of the bag, the teacher said, ‘Oh look, spring spheres’ and all the kids were like ‘Wow, Easter eggs.’ So they knew," Jessica said.
Never mind that a “sphere” is perfectly round, not an ovoid shape. It has to do with the unbelievable nonsense that allowing something that has been a traditional American practice and celebration since the founding of the country has to be made secular because A) it will somehow be construed as the school establishing religion or B) it will offend someone or C) all of the above.
It doesn’t establish anything in terms of religion and if it offends someone, tough. The argument could be made that celebrations of Spring favor Wiccans or Druids or something. And how about those who are offended when teachers make up stupid and obviously incorrect descriptions for Easter eggs like “spring spheres”?
The systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups who have relatively little social power in the United States (Blacks, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asians), by the members of the agent racial group who have relatively more social power (Whites). The subordination is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms and values, and the institutional structures and practices of society.
Notice the only group listed who can possibly be racist according to their definition.
And it gets even better.
Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers.
Got that? “Future time orientation”, i.e. planning ahead, is racist. Apparently only whites do it. And individualism? Racist. And the school district also made it clear they had no desire "to hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as [a] . . . colorblind mentality."
Calling MLK Jr., because as I remember him, a colorblind society was his fondest hope.
The Supreme Court of the United States literally mocked the district’s racial nonsense in a ruling it issued.
Interestingly, the justices highlighted the bizarre claims about race made by the Seattle schools, which cast doubt on whether allowing schools to use race will promote racial harmony rather than racial balkanization.
For example, the Chief Justice’s opinion points out that “Seattle’s web site formerly described ‘emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology’ as a form of ‘cultural racism,’ and currently states that the district has no intention ‘to hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as [a] . . . colorblind mentality.”
Justice Thomas pointed to those claims, and other bizarre claims on Seattle’s web site, in rejecting the dissent’s argument that “local school boards should be entrusted to make decisions on the basis of race.”
Now they’re into “Spring Spheres”.
Wouldn’t you just love for your child to have to grow up attending school in a district that makes race (and now religion) as toxic as that?
So enlightened. /sarc
You perhaps recall that the AGW doomsayers, via the UN, announced in 2005 that by 2010 there would be 50 million “climate refugees” driven from their homes by the adverse effect of global warming.
It’s always nice to check up on the accuracy of such predictions to gauge how well they jibe with reality.
In this case, it’s a complete miss. As most of us know, the measured “global temperature” has been steadily going down (as the natural cycles of the earth again do what they’ve done for billions of years). So what’s the status of all of those refugees?
Well, Gavin Atkinson gives us a nice little update based on the recent census data from various “at risk” places. Remember, we were supposed to see the first effects of warming on the “very sensitive low lying islands of the Pacific and Caribbean”.
Nassau, The Bahamas – The 2010 national statistics recorded that the population growth increased to 353,658 persons in The Bahamas. The population change figure increased by 50,047 persons during the last 10 years.
The island-nation of Saint Lucia recorded an overall household population increase of 5 percent from May 2001 to May 2010 based on estimates derived from a complete enumeration of the population of Saint Lucia during the conduct of the recently completed 2010 Population and Housing Census.
Population 2002, 81755
Population 2010, 88311
The latest Solomon Islands population has surpassed half a million – that’s according to the latest census results.
It’s been a decade since the last census report, and in that time the population has leaped 100-thousand.
How about all those cities that were going to be underwater because of melting glaciers and ice packs?
Meanwhile, far from being places where people are fleeing, no fewer than the top six of the very fastest growing cities in China, Shenzzen, Dongguan, Foshan, Zhuhai, Puning and Jinjiang, are absolutely smack bang within the shaded areas identified as being likely sources of climate refugees.
Similarly, many of the fastest growing cities in the United States also appear within or close to the areas identified by the UNEP as at risk of having climate refugees.
When it all comes down to it, AGW increasingly appears to fall in the category of the usual lefty doomsaying that never lives up to the fear factor with which its proponents attempt to radically change the way we live in order to supposedly save us from ourselves. Think the population bomb with fossil fuel as the target instead of government mandated population control.
Of course the unfortunate thing is many of our politicians on the left and a whole raft of politicians throughout the world (and particularly in the UN) continue to push this farce. The reason is simple. There’s a whole lot of money to be extracted from this scare. World governments can cash in on a “problem” they’ve literally invented out of thin air.
So don’t look for it to go quietly into the night. All that crap about putting science first is just that. They’ve picked their side for obvious reasons and intend to push it all the way to the bank.
That’s one of the reasons stories like this need to be highlighted – so when they inevitably try to get in you wallet again, you have something to fight back with. This is the reality of their predictions – and it is completely the opposite of what their “science” told them would happen.
Something to keep in mind when President Fiscal Responsibility lectures us all tonight on how important fiscal discipline is and how it is a priority of his to reduce the deficit and debt.
The US budget deficit shot up 15.7 percent in the first six months of fiscal 2011, the Treasury Department said Wednesday as political knives were being sharpened for a new budget battle.
The Treasury reported a deficit of $829 billion for the October-March period, compared with $717 billion a year earlier, as revenue rose a sluggish 6.9 percent as the economic recovery slowly gained pace.
2011 spending isn’t something he “inherited”. It’s his. And the budgets he previously laid out for the next 10 years are not deficit or debt reducing budgets by any stretch.
As we know, last year’s deficit was in the $1.4 trillion range, much closer to the CBO estimate than the White House fantasy. Same with ‘09. Sod disregard the White House spin and go with the CBO’s 2 year track record of being pretty much on the money – no pun intended.
Also note that the deficit is supposed to be under a trillion dollars this year and supposedly hits its lowest point when? Why election year of course. Then it again steadily builds as ObamaCare relentlessly kicks in, approaching a trillion dollars again in ‘19.
This is the White House projected budgets, folks. This is what they see us spending, or plan on anyway. But tonight we’re going to be treated to a “major speech” by the architect of this mess telling us how concerned he is with the deficit and how important it is to him to address it.
Print this chart and keep it handy when he presents his spin.
Oh, by the way, remember the campaign promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term? You didn’t know at the time that $800 billion in the hole would do the trick did you? You didn’t know he planned on a deficit of $1.8 trillion did you?
Tomorrow night President Obama will address the nation in an “important” speech – or is it “major” speech – about how he thinks we ought to cut both the deficit and the debt.
Clue: It involves raising taxes.
Yeah, the backhanded way of saying, “our problem is one of not enough revenue instead of too much spending”. And how does the President plan on selling this? Well if his spokesman, Jay Carney is to be believed, an old bromide is the answer:
“You can’t — you can’t simply slash entitlements, lower taxes and call that a fair deal.”
“Everyone,” he said, must “share in the burden of bringing our fiscal house into order.”
You could spend all day on those two sentences alone. Yes, Mr. Carney and Mr. Obama, you can “simply slash entitlement, lower taxes and call that a fair deal”. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, our problem is growing government and out of control spending. Slash both the size of government and severely limit its ability to spend more than it takes in and you’ve taken a major step in “bringing our fiscal house into order”. That’s what’s fair.
But of course, that assumes you don’t by the implication that this problem we suffer under is one of all our making. Because if you do, then you buy into the assumption that we must all “share in the burden” of fixing it. No sale here.
First, we don’t all agree that it in order to fix what profligate and incompetent legislators have done over the years we must give them more money to waste.
No matter how many times they say it, it doesn’t make it right. They have more than enough revenue to properly fund the Constitutionally mandated government. What they don’t have enough revenue to continue carrying on is the extra-Constitutional nonsense called entitlements. That means entitlements must be “slashed” to the point that they’re self-sufficient and don’t add to either the deficit or the debt. Additionally, once those are addressed, government should be trimmed of all the bureaucratic fat it has built up over the decades. If there’s a problem with morbid obesity in this country it is found in the size of government.
Oh, and don’t forget that the guy who is going to lecture us about fiscal responsibility on Wednesday night has doubled the debt and is running a deficit this year over a trillion dollars (drinking game – knock it back every time he pawns all of that off as an “inherited” problem), not to mention adding a huge new … entitlement program.
The budget deal just negotiated take a first tentative swipe at the size of government. No, it’s not what I’d prefer, but then given what it could have ended up being, I’ll take it. Here’s a rundown of some of the cuts. Ed Morrissey has a few more:
The CR terminates funding for more than 55 programs, for a total savings of well over $1 billion. In addition, the bill terminates two programs funded in ObamaCare (the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) and the Free Choice Voucher programs).
The CO-OP, according to some critics, is nothing more than a stealth public option. But to the point – 55 programs is 55 programs. We could probably easily eliminate 5,500, but that’s not the point at the moment – a journey of a 1,000 miles begins with the first step in that direction. That’s what this should be considered and we need to encourage (and reward) this sort of thinking and action.
Another I like:
The legislation also eliminates four Administration “Czars,” including the “Health Care Czar,” the “Climate Change Czar,” the “Car Czar,” and the “Urban Affairs Czar.”
That’s why you have Department Secretaries, although I’d love to see some of the departments eliminated as well. Speaking of those Departments:
- Agriculture: $3 billion cut from FY10 level, $3.2 billion less than Obama budget request
- Commerce/Justice/Science: $10.9 billion cut from FY10 level, $7.1 billion less than Obama request
- Defense: $5 billion increase from FY10
- Energy/Water: $3.6 billion cut from FY10, $1.7 billion less than Obama request
- Financial Services: $2.4 billion cut from FY10, $3.4 billion less than Obama request
- Homeland Security: $0.784 billion cut from FY10, $1.9 billion below Obama request
- Interior: $2.62 billion cut from FY10, $2.8 billion below Obama request
- Labor/HHS/Education: $5.5 billion cut from FY10, $13 billion below Obama request
- Legislature: $0.103 billion cut from FY10
- Military Construction/Veterans Affairs: $0.6 billion increase over FY10, $3.4 billion more than Obama request
- State/Foreign Operations: $0.504 billion cut from FY10, $8.4 billion below Obama request
- Transportation/HUD: $12.3 billion cut from FY10, $13.2 billion below Obama request
Like I said a first tentative step, but definitely a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, I just can’t wait to hear what Mr. Deficit Hawk has to say Wednesday night. In a sad sort of way, it ought to be a howler.
I get so tired of these stories, but they have to be pointed out because they indicate a disturbing trend. In this case, it’s just another in a long line of examples of bureaucrats unilaterally deciding to remove choice for everyone based on their arbitrary assessment of what is “good for you”.
The example this time is about some of the Chicago Public Schools, and in particular the Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, have decided not to allow packed lunches from home. This line in the story just drove me up the wall:
Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.
It is like parents don’t even exist in her world. It is like they should have no say in what their children eat if it doesn’t jibe with Ms. Carmona’s idea of what that should be. Mona Charen calls it “coercive humanitarianism”. I think that’s way too kind. I call it bureaucratic authoritarianism and typical of petty bureaucrats who have the power to impose their will on others with little or no accountability requirements.
Perhaps the biggest point to made about this is parents are again marginalized with these sorts of decisions. They’re forced to do what the bureaucrat decides they should do. And it costs those parents who do take their child’s nutrition seriously and who do pack nutritious lunches the option (the freedom) to do so.
Of course, one supposes that part of the reason for imposing this unilateral ban on lunches from home is so the kids will “eat well”, yes?
At Little Village, most students must take the meals served in the cafeteria or go hungry or both. During a recent visit to the school, dozens of students took the lunch but threw most of it in the garbage uneaten. Though CPS has improved the nutritional quality of its meals this year, it also has seen a drop-off in meal participation among students, many of whom say the food tastes bad.
But as with most things, if you really drill down and “follow the money”, some of the bureaucratic insistence becomes a little clearer:
Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district’s food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch.
And they really don’t care if the food goes in the child’s stomach or the trashcan.
Which brings us to this line in the story:
Such discussions over school lunches and healthy eating echo a larger national debate about the role government should play in individual food choices.
Frankly, I see no reason for debate – none of the government’s business. I don’t need a super-nanny deciding what I can or can’t eat and I darn sure don’t want the government deciding what my children or grandchildren eat.
But … and you knew there was one … when government “pays” for health care, government will feel entitled and empowered to decide such things for individuals because bad decisions may affect your health and that would cost the government more than if you were forced to eat like it decides you should.
Yes there are national implications to this sort of bureaucratic nonsense, and somewhere out there in the bureaucratic/political incubator is a man or woman who will self-justify attempting to impose such a fundamental infringement on your freedom to choose for your own good. And unfortunately many others will blithely go along.