This just in: We’re still broke, but spending money like a drunken Democrat.
OK, nothing new with that.
You’ve probably heard lots of talk coming from Washington of late regarding “fiscal responsibility”, right? I wonder where it is. An article from The Washington Examiner reveals a bit of hypocrisy in this latest trend:
White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orzag announced with great fanfare Tuesday that President Obama wants all nonsecurity agencies to cut spending by 5 percent. As the Washington Post described it, this is “the latest in a series of initiatives, legislative proposals and veto threats in recent weeks aimed at demonstrating that Obama is minding every penny.” Well, pardon us, please, for being the skunk at the party, but why should anybody take seriously any of these White House PR campaigns to make Obama look responsible on the spending issue? After all, in less than two years in the Oval Office, Obama had added more than $4 trillion to scheduled federal spending, driven the annual budget deficit from $467 billion in 2008 to nearly $1.6 trillion in 2010, and pushed the national debt from $10.6 trillion to more than $13 trillion. All of these marks are mileposts on the road to fiscal calamity.
Four trillion dollars? Peanuts!
There seems to be in Washington an odd malady—a philosophy that believes spending more will reduce our debt and spur our economy to soar into prosperity. Whereas this doesn’t work on the household level, it somehow works on the national level. Magic?
Today, in a spastic fit of “fiscal responsibility”, Senate Democrats struck down reductions proposed by Republicans in a new spending bill. This article from the Wall Street Journal provides the details—see the excerpt below:
The Republican measure would have stripped out $24 billion in fiscal aid to state governments and introduced broad budget cuts to most federal agencies in order to fully offset the cost of the legislation.
. . .
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Republican plan would reduce the federal budget deficit by $68 billion over the next decade.
By contrast, the latest version of the Democratic bill, unveiled Wednesday, would add $60 billion to the federal budget deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Well, what’s this spending bill all about, anyway? Well, our fiscally-responsible President recommended more spending to bail out strapped state government programs, as this excellent New American article points out:
Next, President Obama asked Congress to approve a $32 billion funding package to pay the salaries of as many as 300,000 public school teachers whose positions were scheduled to be cut by states strapped for cash. As with his previous request, neither chamber backed the measure.
The particulars of the spending proposals contained in the President’s missive include a “targeted investment” that includes aid to the states in the form of various projects including small business loans. The President all but begs Congress to pass the above cited measure that is still before the Senate. The bill would extend unemployment benefits and provide several stimulus packages for state governments willing to take handouts from the federal government. If enacted, this measure alone would increase the deficit by nearly $80 billion over the next ten years.
Not to worry, says the President, for he has empaneled a “special commission” to work on a “comprehensive deficit-reduction plan.” This group, officially called the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, was created by executive order in February and is tasked with formulating a plan to stabilize the budget deficit by 2015.
I think I can offer some advice for the “special commission” in reigning in our deficit: STOP SPENDING! (And you don’t even have to pay me for that advice!)
The irony isn’t lost on everyone. In another article by the Wall Street Journal, we see the ridiculous side of all this showing through:
Republicans plan to hammer the debt and deficit hypocrisy theme in the days and weeks ahead. White House economic adviser Larry Summers has lectured Congressional Democrats that now is a good time for the federal government to borrow to “stimulate demand” because interest rates are low. Yet the President keeps insisting that fiscal responsibility is an important priority of the White House. Republicans are having a field day. A recent email blast reminded supporters of a statement made by President Obama on November 18th: “It is important though to recognize if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recession, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually cause a double dip recession.”
Fiscal schizophrenia reigns in the White House. One day the runaway debt is the main risk for a double-dip recession. The next day the threat is insufficient deficit spending from the federal government. Looking back, says Mike Pence, the Republican House Conference Chairman, “It’s hard to believe that when Nancy Pelosi was running for Speaker in 2006, she actually promised that Democrats would balance the budget and restore fiscal responsibility.”
In fairness, I recall some ridiculous spending just before the 2008 election under the Bush administration. After all, that’s when the heavy-duty bailouts began, and candidate McCain made sure he was seen voting for these bailouts.
This whole thing reminds me of that old skit from Saturday Night Live called “Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford”. Ever see it? Do you think that ever aired in Washington?