Responsible Spender?

In the past week, President Obama, on the campaign trail, has tried to convince his audiences—and us as well—that he has been the most responsible spender in recent presidential history. He used as his proof an article written by someone who drew all his information from a presentation by Nancy Pelosi. Now there’s a solid source. In order to believe this spin, one has to place all 2009 spending on former President Bush. How can anyone do that? Well, since 2009 spending started under a Bush budget that began in 2008, surely it all belongs to him, right? Not when you actually look at the facts, which somehow elude our current leader. Bush never signed that budget: Obama did later. The faulty analysis also throws the stimulus bill onto Bush, even though it was an Obama enterprise from the start.

Don’t believe everything you hear from this president. In fact, don’t believe most of what you hear, especially now that the campaign is in full throttle. Let me be very clear [as Obama often says]: Obama and the Congress have added more than $5 trillion to the budget in less than four years. Bush added $4 trillion in eight years. As unadmirable as Bush’s record may be, it is the epitome of fiscal control when compared to Obama’s.

Every time Obama has sent his version of a budget to the Congress, it has been rejected unanimously—in other words, by both Republicans and Democrats:

Of course, one of the reasons the Democrat leadership has rejected Obama budgets is that it hasn’t been stellar at even considering budgets. The Senate, under Harry Reid’s leadership [?], hasn’t put forward a budget for a vote in over three years, despite a law requiring it.

So much for the concept of the rule of law.

How bad is the current fiscal situation? Here’s one way of understanding it that may bring it closer to home:

Yet what we are told about the deficit doesn’t take into account a deficit that is officially off-budget. We try to pretend it isn’t there, but it’s the biggest fiscal headache of all:

Unless something is done to deal with the root of the problem, we will become a financial basket-case. But every time someone—usually Republican—attempts to offer a plan to deal with it, Republicans are accused of wanting to throw granny off a cliff. That type of political demagoguery is not new, but at the critical juncture at which we now stand, it is particularly irresponsible.

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for some time, you know Mitt Romney was not my preferred candidate, but I now have to hope, work, and pray for his election, if for no other reason than to remove the White House’s current temporary occupant. These last four years have been a disaster in more ways than I can take the time to enumerate today. Maybe someone who understands better how economics works can make a difference.

Obama’s Plan of Action

President Obama famously—or infamously—said at the beginning of his term that if things didn’t get better in the next three years, he should be a one-term president. I would like to hold him to that promise. But then, he’s not been too good at keeping his promises:

Some people believe he deserves special recognition for this feat. Here’s one suggestion:

He has his solutions to the national debt problem. Here’s one:

Don’t like that one? Well, here’s another:

Of course, it’s not just on the issue of the national debt that he’s gone astray. When he took office, the average price of gasoline was about $1.80, after President Bush took action to open up more offshore drilling sites. Obama has cut back severely on those permissions. Is that perhaps one of the reasons we’ve seen a spike that may soon set a record? Already gas prices for this time of the year are at an all-time high. What’s he going to do about it?

Here’s a concise summary and the president’s proposed plan of action:

I don’t think so.

The Sunset of Our National Life?

Fallout from President Obama’s latest proposed budget continues. Critics are getting a lot of ammunition by playing back videos of Obama on the campaign trail before his election, when he called the Bush deficits unpatriotic. Also making the rounds is a speech where he promised to cut the debt in half by the end of his term. I wouldn’t call an additional $5 trillion an exercise in debt reduction. His words have come back to damage him now, and rightly so.

One critic, though, has at least compared the proposed budget to some of the Western world’s finest literature:

Speaking of fantasies:

The question that always troubles me is whether the voters will realize what’s going on, or will they instead fall for the illusion this administration is touting as reality:

Driving off into that sunset could be our last act as a sovereign people.

Budgetary Foolishness

The Associated Press, hardly a mouthpiece for the Republican Party, had this to say about the new budget proposal President Obama showcased this week:

Taking a pass on reining in government growth, President Barack Obama unveiled a record $3.8 trillion election-year budget plan … calling for stimulus-style spending on roads and schools and tax hikes on the wealthy to help pay the costs. … Obama would leave the spiraling growth of health care programs for the elderly and the poor largely unchecked. The plan claims $4 trillion in deficit savings over the coming decade, but most of if would be through tax increases Republicans oppose, lower war costs already in motion, and budget cuts enacted last year in a debt pact with GOP lawmakers.

The only real cuts would be in defense, which is only the first obligation of any government—to protect its citizens.

One of the reporters at the White House press conference on the budget put it this way to presidential spokesman Jay Carney in trying to make the point about the foolishness of the president’s plan:

It would be along the lines of a family that makes $29,000 a year spending $38,000 a year, so taking on new debt—$9,000 in new debt with a $153,000 credit card bill that they were not able to pay down.

Carney’s response was to—get ready for this unique explanation—blame Bush.

What the Obama budget really means is that by 2022, one decade from now, we will no longer be $15 trillion in debt, but $25 trillion. Yet he touts what he calls the economic recovery, and warns that to stop government spending will thwart the recovery. That’s just warmed-over, totally discredited Keynesian theory that says government spending is the way to prosperity. Absurd. But of course the president wants to paint the rosiest picture possible.

His perceptions are way off:

Congratulations, Mr. President, for not allowing the stress to get to you. Unfortunately, it’s getting to the rest of us.

An Economic Roundup . . . in Cartoons

The economy has been everyone’s preoccupation, what with the debt/budget deal earlier this week, the stock market freefall on Thursday, and the continuing bad jobs reports. And late last night, I saw where S&P downgraded the nation’s credit rating from triple A to double A, which has never happened before. Congratulations, President Obama, for achieving something no other American president ever achieved.

Let’s take the cartoonists’ pulse on economic-related news, starting with the real accomplishment of the debt deal:

Too pessimistic? How about this one?

I think this proves you can stimulate a patient to death. Well, how are things going on the jobs front?

What do you do when this is all you have to show for your efforts?

Ah, yes, the same theme that has dominated the Obama presidency from the beginning—it’s someone else’s fault. Well, the president has a solution to the problem:

But if you were to press President Obama for who is really to blame, I have a feeling he’d point to the real culprits:

I don’t know—I think I like those “extremists.” They did pretty well without his guidance.

In Praise of Harmony & Mutual Respect

The budget/debt ceiling bill passed the House last night, and the Senate is slated to vote on it today. Half of the Democrats opposed it; sixty-six Republicans also said no to it. The Democrats’ objections were that there were no tax increases, there were spending cuts, and it called for the Congress to send a balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification. Republicans’ objections were that most of the spending cuts were too far down the road, there is the possibility for tax increases in the future if a special commission deems them necessary [although they would still have to pass both houses to take effect], and the debt ceiling was raised in the process.

I don’t have any sympathy with the Democrat objections, but I understand why some Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to support the measure. This is not a bill that makes a fundamental change. At the same time, I understand why the majority of Republicans went along with it: when you control only one part of the Congress and there is a president who will veto anything stronger, you go for the best deal you can get, and it does change the debate at least. No longer will Congress be pushing new spending programs; the discussion will now center on how to make effective cuts in spending. In other words, I see the strengths of both Republican positions.

What we have here is not a basic philosophical difference among most Republicans, but merely a tactical one. Is this not supportable because it doesn’t do enough, or is it instead the first step along an arduous policy road on the way to the ultimate goal?

I know some people’s passions are running high on this issue, and there are those calling for new leadership in the Republican party. Yet from other accounts I have read, even many of the Republicans who rejected this bill had words of praise for Speaker Boehner and his leadership team. They recognize he did his best, and they appreciate his efforts in a tough political climate. Although they may have voted against this specific piece of legislation, they are hopeful that it really can be a first step after all. They certainly need to pull together now if anything more significant is to be achieved. Initial reports indicate they can go forward unified in what they seek to accomplish overall.

It’s always nice to see harmony. Then, of course, there is the opposite of that. Yesterday, Vice President Biden met with disgruntled House Democrats to explain why he and the president support the bill. By all accounts, it was a heated meeting, and in the midst of that heat, a few verbal shots were fired. Apparently, the VP and/or other members of the Democrat caucus called members of the Tea Party “terrorists.”

Once again the Party of Civility leads the way into a new and brighter future where mutual respect forms the cornerstone of our political system.

Identifying the Extremists

For weeks now [I could say “for years,” but I’m trying to limit it to the present debate] we’ve been treated to a steady stream of invective from Democrats saying that “Tea Party wingnut extremists” are the barrier for reaching a budget deal. What exactly are those “extremist” views? Please choose among the following:

  • A desire to live within our means as a nation rather than going even more trillions of dollars in debt
  • A call for a balanced budget amendment—such as those that exist currently in many states—to ensure that wiser spending decisions are made
  • A reluctance to raise the debt ceiling once again, in hopes that we can turn our spending habits around
  • An attempt to reduce our current debt by $4-6 trillion to stave off the downgrading of the nation’s credit rating

These are radical, wild-eyed proposals? These are extremist policy stances?

They used to be called wisdom.

On the other side, calls for raising taxes will only hurt the economy. By the way, the very people the Democrats say they want to help—the needy—will be hurt the most by the reduction in jobs those raised taxes will cause. They are also the ones who will suffer the most by a downgraded credit rating, as costs will rise and interest rates on loans will shoot up.

And here’s some more basic knowledge that people need to learn: tax cuts do not cause deficits; as the Reagan years revealed, revenues increased significantly by lowering the tax rates. The only reason the deficits went up during Reagan’s presidency is that spending increased faster than the new revenues, thanks to a Democrat House of Representatives that promised to cut $3 in spending for every $1 dollar raised in revenue. Needless to say, they reneged on that promise.

How about a real example of extremism? Here’s former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sharing her keen insight into the budget process:

What we’re trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget. We’re trying to save life on this planet as we know it.

I’m sure glad she’s not prone to overstating anything. At least she didn’t extend her remarks to the galaxy or the universe.

Yes, there are extremists out there, but they need to be identified more accurately.