April 14, 2011

Obama Doubles Down On The Budget

Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States, is truly amazing. Whenever I am certain that he has sunk to the absolute depths of mendacity and rank partisanship, whenever I have no doubt that his socialistic urges have sunk to the lowest measurable level, he digs a hole--nay, hires a dredge (with taxpayer dollars, of course)--and sinks even lower. I speak, of course, of his April 13 teleprompter reading on fixing America’s burgeoning debt.

All of the usual elements of an Obama TP reading were present: halting delivery, left-right-left head-waggling reminiscent of a fan at a tennis match, blaming nearly everything on Bush, blaming everything else on Republicans, class warfare, attacking the evil, greedy wealthy, “facts” and figures plucked wholesale from the ether, economic assumptions based on projected income or events that no sentient being believes will be forthcoming, the economic miracle that is ObamaCare, winning the future, and vision but no real, concrete details. As usual, Mr. Obama is leaving the little, niggling details to the little people.

False choices and moral hectoring, as usual, played a prominent role. Attacking Republicans, Mr. Obama said “Their vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the social compact in America.” Wasn’t it Mr. Obama who has consistently promised (threatened?) to “fundamentally change America?” Ah, but those evil Republicans are attacking “children with autism or Down’s syndrome,” favoring instead “every millionaire and billionaire in our society.”

Wasn’t it Mr. Obama who swept into office promising to change the tone in Washington and to bridge the partisan divide? There is nothing quite like accusing political opponents of intending to savage handicapped children to win friends and influence people. “You’ve just accused me of the most craven and base moral degeneracy? Why of course I’ll be happy to work with you on a bipartisan basis, Mr. Obama!”

NOTE: Sources for this article may be found here, here, here, here, here and here.

Perhaps the most lunatic assertion of the TP reading was Mr. Obama’s suggestion that the wealthy are, in reality, more than willing to pay much higher taxes. They really want to “give back” to the nation that gave them so much. Really? Why aren’t they simply writing checks to the IRS over and above their already considerable tax burdens? Surely they’re free to do that; why do they fail? Why, it’s merely because the government hasn’t asked them yet! Who knew it was that easy?! No wonder we made him president.

I can see it now:

Mr. Obama: “Mr. Wealthy American, I’m asking you to pay a bunch more of your income in taxes. As Vice President Biden, who slept through my economic speech, would say [he actually did, and he wasn’t alone], it’s your patriotic duty! I know you’ve just been waiting for me to ask, so I’m asking.”

Mr. Wealthy American: “Bwahahahahahahahahahahaha! Administrative Assistant, book me a flight to Switzerland, close all the factories, furlough all the workers and transfer all my assets to off shore accounts immediately!”

To be fair to the President, I suspect that a great many Americans would be willing to pay a bit more in taxes, but only if they could be certain that the money would be used solely for paying down the debt. Finding evidence of that in the Obama Administration would be akin to looking for mermaids.

If there was anyone left in America who had the slightest doubt that Mr. Obama has no idea whatever how wealth is created, or who doubted that he firmly believes that every dime anyone makes belongs to the government, this TP reading surely must have disabused them of those foolish notions. And to confirm that understanding, we now have a new economic term: “spending reductions in the tax code.” Mr. Obama means what the simple folks would call “tax cuts.” Tax cuts are no such thing. They are nothing more than money--which belongs to individual citizens--that the government will not get. Such things are, of course, anathema to Mr. Obama and all good socialists everywhere, who alone are fit to decide how much--if any--of the money individuals earn they will be allowed to keep.

And who are the wealthy? Any single person making $200,000 per year, or any married couple making $250,000. Where I live and work, that’s a pretty heady income, but in many places in America, that’s middle class. Many economists have crunched the numbers, and even if we confiscated all of the wealth of the truly wealthy people in America, that amount, that one time amount taken from people who know how to create wealth, would pay off less than one-half of the current, not the ever-increasing, debt. And it would be a one time amount, because most of those wealthy Americans would almost certainly become other than Americans as soon as they could fly out of the socialistic dictatorship capable of confiscating all of their wealth (the IRS doesn’t “ask”), leaving behind everyone they ever employed to join the ever-increasing ranks of the unemployed.

Mr. Obama’s “vision”--it surely doesn’t rise to the level of a plan, or even of an idle, passing fancy--rests on several broad sort-of themes. Following are quotes from his published speech, accompanied by translations in actual American English as opposed to socialist stealth-speak.

Mr. Obama: “The first step in our approach is to keep annual domestic spending low by building on the savings that both parties agreed to last week – a step that will save us about $750 billion over twelve years. We will make the tough cuts necessary to achieve these savings, including in programs I care about, but I will not sacrifice the core investments we need to grow and create jobs. We’ll invest in medical research and clean energy technology. We’ll invest in new roads and airports and broadband access. We will invest in education and job training. We will do what we need to compete and we will win the future.”

TRANSLATION: “We is me, and “we” only “saved” about $352 million for this year. We sure put one over on the Republicans! We borrowed that much and more while I’m giving this speech. If you think I’m going to cut any program I care about, you’re an idiot. I’m going to continue to spend as much as I like, and I’m going to send everybody to college on the public dime while training new legions of government employees, who will compete and win the future by draining ever-decreasing taxpayer dollars to pay for jobs that create no wealth at all.

Mr. Obama: “The second step in our approach is to find additional savings in our defense budget. As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than protecting our national security, and I will never accept cuts that compromise our ability to defend our homeland or America’s interests around the world. But as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, has said, the greatest long-term threat to America’s national security is America’s debt.

Just as we must find more savings in domestic programs, we must do the same in defense. Over the last two years, Secretary Gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending. I believe we can do that again. We need to not only eliminate waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness, but conduct a fundamental review of America’s missions, capabilities, and our role in a changing world. I intend to work with Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs on this review, and I will make specific decisions about spending after it’s complete.”

TRANSLATION: “I will never accept cuts that compromise our ability to defend our homeland or America’s interests around the world.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Whew! I can’t believe they bought that! Would the President who believes that America is responsible for all of the world’s problems, who won’t defend her borders, whose ambassadors denigrate their nation in foreign capitals, who won’t even identify the enemy that wants to destroy America do anything to harm national defense? Of course not!

Somebody should have told Defense Secretary Gates and the Pentagon about all of this. Only minutes after the TP reading, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said that Secretary Gates “has been clear that further significant defense cuts cannot be accomplished without reducing force structure and military capability.” Ooops! Somebody didn’t get the memo!

Mr. Obama: “The third step in our approach is to further reduce health care spending in our budget. Here, the difference with the House Republican plan could not be clearer: their plan lowers the government’s health care bills by asking seniors and poor families to pay them instead. Our approach lowers the government’s health care bills by reducing the cost of health care itself.

Already, the reforms we passed in the health care law will reduce our deficit by $1 trillion. My approach would build on these reforms. We will reduce wasteful subsidies and erroneous payments. We will cut spending on prescription drugs by using Medicare’s purchasing power to drive greater efficiency and speed generic brands of medicine onto the market. We will work with governors of both parties to demand more efficiency and accountability from Medicaid. We will change the way we pay for health care – not by procedure or the number of days spent in a hospital, but with new incentives for doctors and hospitals to prevent injuries and improve results. And we will slow the growth of Medicare costs by strengthening an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers who will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services seniors need.

Now, we believe the reforms we’ve proposed to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid will enable us to keep these commitments to our citizens while saving us $500 billion by 2023, and an additional one trillion dollars in the decade after that. And if we’re wrong, and Medicare costs rise faster than we expect, this approach will give the independent commission the authority to make additional savings by further improving Medicare.

But let me be absolutely clear: I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society. I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs. I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves. We will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations.”

TRANSLATION: “We” are absolutely not going to do anything to cut ObamaCare, which will proceed as planned. I’ll just lie--as usual--about the Republican’s proposals, scare the seniors, and get right to rationing health care. Those stupid seniors won’t know what hit them after the death panels get busy. After all, they’re the biggest health care expense. Ration them off the table and I’ll have loads more money to spend on high speed rail, green energy, energy development in Brazil, unions, and my other favorite boondoggles. Save $1.5 trillion by 2033? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I won’t even save a billion this year! But at least I’ll have another omnipotent commission controlling everyone’s lives. Sure “we’ll reform” programs! ObamaCare is the ultimate reform, and I care soooo much about keeping promises.

Mr. Obama: “That includes, by the way, our commitment to Social Security. While Social Security is not the cause of our deficit, it faces real long-term challenges in a country that is growing older. As I said in the State of the Union, both parties should work together now to strengthen Social Security for future generations. But we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.”

TRANSLATION: I know that Social Security is in far less trouble than Medicare or Medicaid, but I also know that seniors are stupid, so I’ll just pander to them a bit more. If they complain, one of my supporters will probably call them racist. Hell, I don’t know anything about Social Security, and I could care less, but I do know that it’s going to go bust, and by the time it does, I’ll be long gone, happily enriched for life by my supporters. I’ll never have to depend on it, so screw them all!

Mr. Obama: “The fourth step in our approach is to reduce spending in the tax code. In December, I agreed to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans because it was the only way I could prevent a tax hike on middle-class Americans. But we cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society. And I refuse to renew them again. Beyond that, the tax code is also loaded up with spending on things like itemized deductions. And while I agree with the goals of many of these deductions, like homeownership or charitable giving, we cannot ignore the fact that they provide millionaires an average tax break of $75,000 while doing nothing for the typical middle-class family that doesn’t itemize.

My budget calls for limiting itemized deductions for the wealthiest 2% of Americans – a reform that would reduce the deficit by $320 billion over ten years. But to reduce the deficit, I believe we should go further. That’s why I’m calling on Congress to reform our individual tax code so that it is fair and simple – so that the amount of taxes you pay isn’t determined by what kind of accountant you can afford. I believe reform should protect the middle class, promote economic growth, and build on the Fiscal Commission’s model of reducing tax expenditures so that there is enough savings to both lower rates and lower the deficit. And as I called for in the State of the Union, we should reform our corporate tax code as well, to make our businesses and our economy more competitive.”

TRANSLATION: Sure, I took credit for extending the Bush tax cuts just a few months ago, but I lied! I’m going to do away with all kinds of deductions, like the mortgage deduction. Sure, that’ll brutally depress the real estate market and slaughter the economy, but I don’t control the entire economy yet, and you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs! And, yeah, I know that calling for reforming the corporate tax code while simultaneously calling for raising taxes on the people who form and own corporations makes no real sense, but again, I’m all about me, and me is all about control. And power. And golf. Let those nitwits in Congress deal with the details. I’m gonna go play golf. Somewhere overseas I haven’t visited yet. I’ll ask Michelle; she’s got a list...

So Mr. Obama intends to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion dollars over the next 12 years. He says he’ll do it by $2 trillion in spending cuts, and that will lower interest payments by a trillion, and tax reform will cut “$1 trillion in spending from the tax code.” Nonsense. It’s unicorn horns and fairy dust.

REALITY: The Treasury Department recently reported that the deficit increased 15.7% from October to March, the first six months of fiscal 2011. It reached $829 billion compared with $717 billion of the same period during the previous year. This, despite the fact that revenue for the same period increased 6.9%.

Mr. Obama wants to cut spending by $2 trillion, but is continually proposing new spending programs that would require entirely new permanent federal bureaucracies. In addition, he is unleashing bureaucrats to further burden the economy with regulations, and is all but obliterating our domestic energy production. ObamaCare alone, the biggest, most wasteful and costly entitlement program ever devised by man, would cost at least that much and more, and even the Congressional Budget Office and many Democrats are now admitting it. And even if he kept his word on spending cuts he obviously has no intention of making, interest payments on a debt which Mr. Obama is dramatically increasing daily will never come close to being reduced $1 trillion dollars. The more you borrow and the longer the term of the loan, the more interest you pay. It’s called “compound interest,” yet another economic reality with which Mr. Obama seems unacquainted.

The best part is the idea that tax reform will cut a trillion in spending from the tax code. What spending?! The tax code is all about revenues owed the government by individuals and corporations. It spends nothing, except the money required to operate the IRS and everything associated with it. There is no “spending” to be cut there, not a dime, let alone a trillion dollars. There is either less tax revenue or more. Is Mr. Obama so economically illiterate that he doesn’t realize this, or does he just have so little respect for the intelligence of the public that he’s willing to run any con whenever he feels he can get away with it?

True reform of the tax code would require greatly reducing regulations and simplifying everything. It would require laying off an army of IRS bureaucrats. It would actually--if properly done--reduce taxes across the board, while simultaneously and genuinely stimulating the economy. People who have more money spend more, invest more, save more, build more businesses, employ more people and create more wealth, all of which equals substantially increased tax revenue garnered at lower cost to the taxpayers. Mr. Obama has shown absolutely no inclination to do any of this as it would decrease the size of government and limit its power, concepts utterly distasteful and foreign to him.

How do we know that Mr. Obama is not being forthcoming? Michael Tanner, at National Review Online, provides perspective:

“ Just a month after he took office, President Obama hosted a fiscal summit at the White House. The president invited more than 100 lawmakers, economists, policy specialists, and special-interest groups to a daylong meeting designed to ‘launch a national conversation on how to put the nation on sounder financial footing.’

‘We cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences,’ the president declared, promising to cut the deficit, then $1.3 trillion, in half before the end of his first term. Having made that promise, the president instead went out and increased the budget deficit to $1.4 trillion. He also pushed through a $2.7 trillion health-care bill that adds $833 billion to the deficit over its first decade of full implementation.

Roughly a year later, he appointed a bipartisan deficit commission, warning that ’these are tough times and [the federal government] can’t keep spending like they’re not.’

In December, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform issued its report calling for spending cuts, tax reform, and changes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The president ignored it. The deficit reached $1.65 trillion.

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama again said we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. ‘That is not sustainable,’ he said.

He then proposed a 2012 budget that adds $13 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

One begins to detect a pattern.”

One does indeed begin to detect a pattern. Let’s not forget that Mr. Obama already proposed a budget for 2012, only two months ago. That “budget” set a new low for adult seriousness, a low that Mr. Obama has, historically surpassed with his April 13 TP reading, a performance that threw his own ridiculous budget under the bus. So adept is Mr. Obama at conning the public, at diverting our attention from the furiously lever-pulling man behind the curtain, that we tend to forget the basis of all economic reality: Spend no more than you make. If you do, quit spending and pay off debts until that balance is restored. No amount of nuance, no amount of faux-eloquent teleprompter reading can alter that simple formula for individual and national success.

The speech was obviously intended to be a refutation and response to Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, a convincing alternative. In that it neither refuted nor responded to Ryan’s proposal, except to insult its author, it was a complete failure. Likewise, it lacked any coherent details or figures that could be tested or measured, so it cannot serve as an alternative. If it was intended to convince the public that Mr. Obama is knowledgeable about and fully engaged in economic issues, it again failed and abysmally so.

It was a small, mean-spirited, partisan speech. It was not the speech of a confident, engaged, serious leader, but of the perpetual campaigner who knows only how to bask in the glory of his own press releases. It can no longer be denied that Mr. Obama is not only incompetent, but a clear and present danger to the short and long term security of America. The alternative is that he actually seeks our economic downfall. We ignore his utter lack of adult seriousness and competence--or his intentional hostility to our continuing national existence--at our own, very real, peril.

Posted by MikeM at April 14, 2011 06:07 PM

My sainted grandma used to say it and it's true: people will accuse you of what they would do themselves. And that's what Mr. Obama is doing.

Marianne Matthews

Posted by: Marianne Matthews at April 17, 2011 04:13 PM