Liddick: More spending the answer on Planet Obama
OK, it’s official: We’re screwed.
And not just because Congressional Democrats and Republicans chose to have a date night while listening to the State of the Union. Although that couldn’t have helped.
The speech itself was pretty much as expected: an hour of eloquently delivered fluff, spiced with the occasional jaw-dropping overstatement. It didn’t take five minutes for the president to put the recession in the rear-view mirror. Excuse me? Did the unemployment rate drop 5 percent while we were napping? Are housing prices on the rise again? Yes, a bad economy was the rationale for spending hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars over the past two years, but … shouldn’t there at least be a nod toward reality?
Apparently not. On Planet Obama the answer to a spotty recovery, skyrocketing deficits and crippling national debt is … lots more spending. Make no mistake, that’s what one is hearing when a Democrat waxes poetic about the need for “investment.” Especially when coupled with “the future,” that far-off and glittering land where no measurement of effectiveness is possible by the crude means available to us today.
The president spoke about our educational system’s failure to produce students proficient in math, and it was clear from his remarks on the economy that he knows whereof he speaks. His numbers simply do not add up. Calling for increased aid to scientists and inventors, school systems, infrastructure projects and a cornucopia of other goodies, he also noted that the budget deficit must be reduced. Correct, but not something one can do while calling for more spending, ah, sorry. “Investment.”
Yes, the president called for a freeze in domestic spending. But specifics were few, and assumptions questionable. Cutting tax subsidies for oil companies? It didn’t pass last year in a Democrat-controlled Congress. Why does he think it will do better now? Obamacare as a cost-cutting measure? Only – as OMB pointed out when they scored it – if one includes the $500 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid on which the figures are based. And since these cuts were restored by last year’s Congress, why is there hope for a different result this time around?
He didn’t even advocate for any of the recommendations of his very own Deficit Reduction Commission. Not one.
At the bottom of the president’s fuzzy assumptions and empty rhetoric is a political calculation: He hopes Congressional Republicans will do the heavy lifting on budget-cutting so Democrats can blame them for “heartlessness” when the pain appears. We had a preview of that sort of roguery over school breakfasts last week, right here in Colorado.
This type of cynicism and hypocrisy is not only disgusting, it is poisonous in our present situation. It is one more proof, if any more be needed, that many members of our political class are willing to sell our country’s future for another few years in office. It has to be exposed for the betrayal it is, and it has to stop.
To understand why, consider the following: This year’s deficit is now calculated at $1.5 trillion; the national debt is projected to be $16.4 trillion. In comparison, our Gross Domestic Product is about $14.7 trillion. This is the cliff Greece went over last year, and we’re headed right for it as well. Fast.
Republican proposals to cut $100 billion from the budget this year are an attempt to save the Titanic from sinking by bailing with a teacup. The president proposes to use a thimble. Neither will serve.
There have been cries to “cut defense spending.” Sorry, that doesn’t work either. One could eliminate the entire Department of Defense, and still have an annual deficit approaching $800 billion. In fact, defense spending today represents less than a sixth of the total budget, and 5 percent of GDP. For historical purposes, it was 6 percent at the height of Ronald Reagan’s defense buildup.
No, to make meaningful progress on cutting the deficit, one has to look to what the Office of Management and Budget calls “payments to individuals” – the “mandatory” social spending programs that currently make up two-thirds of federal spending, an amount that has grown from 26 percent of the budget 50 years ago. Everybody knows this.
Which makes the president’s “you cut, so we can demagogue you” gambit so disingenuous, so transparently partisan and so destructive. If “cooperation” really is the word of the hour, both parties in Congress, and especially the president – the only politician with claim to speak for the nation as a whole – should agree first, and publicly, on priorities for the budget axe. Say the Department of Education, or the EPA to begin with.
And quickly, before we become that progressive dream of Eurosocialism.
You know. Greece.
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