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April 20, 2009
Not a misprint: Obama seeks cuts of $100 MILLION to reduce deficit (updated)
If this were April 1, I might be inclined to think it a media joke. Or that the White House press office is pulling our leg.
But it is not and it makes me worry for the sanity of President Obama that he could actually believe that cutting 1/37,000 of the federal budget will make a dent in the $1.75 (at least) TRILLION debt he's running up this year.
And the way the Obamapress is reporting this is hysterically funny - as if he is actually trying to cut the deficit. Here's one of the major Obama rags in the country, the LA Times:
President Obama, whose healthcare and economic stimulus initiatives threaten to dramatically inflate the federal budget deficit, heralded a new push Saturday to cut wasteful spending in Washington.
In case you are unaware, it wouldn't surprise me if DHS spends $3 million on exercise bikes for higher grade bureaucrats. They may spend that much on Kleenex for DHS offices.
And by the way, just what the hell was DHS doing spending millions of dollars on logos anyway? I know everyone in America wants a DHS T-shirt 'cause they're so kewl but can't they settle for a coffee mug with the Homeland Security seal on it?
Economist Greg Mankiw can't believe it either:
To put those numbers in perspective, imagine that the head of a household with annual spending of $100,000 called everyone in the family together to deal with a $34,000 budget shortfall. How much would he or she announce that spending had be cut? By $3 over the course of the year--approximately the cost of one latte at Starbucks. The other $33,997? We can put that on the family credit card and worry about it next year.
Is the president that out of touch that he doesn't know there are far riper trees to prune if he wants to go after government waste? The Pentagon always has a lot of bloat as do entitlement programs. Don't need a pair of pruning shears there, an ax will do just fine. Just keep hacking away until someone starts screaming - and then hack some more.
Energy, Transportation, HHS, Commerce, Education - the whole jiggling, fat laden, porky pig of a budget could stand a once over by those Department secretaries. Instead, what will be cut won't even count as being superficial. More like a bad PR joke or Obama's idea of responsible government - which, when you think about it, is pretty much the same thing.
Talking trillions and cutting billions would at least be in the ballpark. But saving $100 million dollars out of a budget of $3.6 trillion is a slap in the face to the taxpayer - a cynical public relations blitz. I hope it is not indicative of the way the president will approach deficit cutting in the future.
At the rate he's going, the sun will burn out before the deficit is reduced to a manageable level.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky
Update - Randall Hoven adds:
First, $100 million is a lot of money. President Obama would have to appoint 2,940 more Tim Geithners to collect that much in back taxes (at $34,000 each). Yet there are only about 20 cabinet positions and perhaps a similar number of czars. I'm not sure even Barack Obama could come up with 2,900 more czars in only 90 days.
Secondly, Obama's willingness to spend 100 million fewer dollars means he thinks the economy is doing less badly than he had thought it was. After all, he once said,
The Congressional Budget Office estimated the 2009 federal deficit to be $1.8450 trillion. Once that $100 million is cut, it we be only $1.8449 trillion. If they could do that every 90 days, it would eliminate the 2009 deficit entirely by the year 6558. (Neglecting interest, of course. If we don't neglect interest, that $100 million represents about one week's worth of interest on 2009's deficit.)
It's not all good news, though. First, according to Al Gore's calculations, the oceans will be 900 feet above current levels by 6558. And right after, in the year 6559, they would have to start working off the $1.379 trillion deficit of 2010.
But it's a start. And for that, we must give President Obama credit.
Tom Suhadolnik adds:
Here is my attempt to bring Obama’s proposal into perspective for those who do not normally deal with billions and trillions in their daily lives.
Imagine you are the head of an average American family with a household income of $50,233.00. Now imagine you are faced with a life changing crisis: a family member becomes ill or someone is laid off. As the prospect of bankruptcy or foreclosure becomes more real you are forced to make tough decisions. You call your family members to a meeting and give them the bad news.
You start by spending a few minutes explaining the seriousness of the situation. You recount some stories about how the family has come together in the past. You close the pep talk with something about adversity building character.
Then you tell them what needs to be done to stave off disaster. You need the family to come together and slash the annual household budget by $1.39. It will take help from all the family members. It will certainly be painful. But in order to respond to the crisis the family must endure the 0.00278% cut in spending.
Your teenage son, mouth agape, stares at you. Your wife quietly wonders if you have forgotten to take your meds again. Your teenage daughter worries you might strike up a conversation with her date tonight and scare him away. And your 8 year old, always willing to help, places the change from her pocket on the kitchen table and begins counting.
In the years to come, your youngest will tell her grandchildren how she saved the family from financial disaster back in ought-nine with 5 quarters, 2 dimes and some lint.
Absurd? Not at all.
Obama’s budget for FY2010 is roughly $3,600,000,000,000.00. He is asking his cabinet members to find $100,000,000.00 in cuts. That is 0.00278% of FY2010 spending. That is the equivalent of the average American family cutting $1.39 from their annual budget.