"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, February 7, 2011

Obama Thinks You're Stupid

According to The Hill, "President Obama's budget director outlined some of the 'touch choices' Obama is willing to make to cut spending in his 2012 budget request due out on Feb. 14.   The piece details cuts that affect initiatives dear to the president: programs to help the poor and to clean up the Great Lakes near the president's home state of Illinois.  The cuts are relatively small, however, in the larger scheme of things. In total, the $775 million in detailed cuts fall far short of demands by congressional Republicans and will do little toward tackling the deficit, which is estimated to be $1.5 trillion this year by the Congressional Budget Office."  

$775 million... wow!   Obama thinks we're stupid apparently, or innumerate, or both.   Let's do the math... $775 million is about 1/20th of a percent -- that's 1/2000th -- of the federal deficit this year, and about 1/50th of a percent -- or 1/5000th -- of the total federal budget of roughly $3.8 trillion.   But this is all so difficult -- he must imagine us thinking -- all these millions and billions and trillions; they all sound alike, so they must mean something. 

But consider this analogy.   Say I have a family of four and I make $50,000 a year, the median family income in the U.S.   But say I am spending roughly $80,000 a year -- meaning I am "deficit spending" about $30,000 a year.    And I go home to my wife and say that we need to make some "tough choices" because our current path is "unsustainable," so I am going to work toward cutting my deficit spending of $30,000 a year by cutting 1/20th of a percent of that deficit spending.   Wow, she says, what a "tough choice"!   What a man you are, honey, thanks for taking control of our family's finances!   Then she gets out her calculator and figures out that one percent of $30,000 is $300, and 1/20th of $300 is $15.   Fifteen bucks I'm going to cut.   That will certainly put my family back on firmer ground.   Maybe I'll cut out a McDonalds run in April sometime, and then another in October.   Voila!   Fiscal soundness awaits!

The President's "proposal" is chicken feed; it's simply not serious.


Rand Paul, the new senator from Kentucky, is acting like a real leader in his proposal for $500 billion cuts.   That's at least in the same basic order of magnitude that we need.   The problem is that we may be playing into Obama's hands politically.   He will propose almost inconsequential cuts to a baseline that is already super-inflated after the 2009 stimulus.   Then he will say over and over again that he was for "cuts."  But he will make the Republicans do the heavy lifting in proposing real cuts that will really gore someone's ox.   And then he will say that we are being "draconian" and "hurting the poor" and "starving children."   Just wait.  

Again, he thinks we're stupid.  

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