Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Drop in a Bucket, or Obama's Tiny Scalpel

Politics is great theatre. The entire range of the human condition is on stage, enhanced for a large audience. Drama, comedy, satire, it's all there.

Occasionally, political theatre becomes a farce. The upcoming Presidential State of the Union Address is a prime example. The buzz on Capitol Hill has President Obama proposing a spending freeze to combat his record federal deficit.

Obama used the financial crisis as the main excuse for a massive increase in spending, resulting in a correspondingly massive deficit. So, in theory, there should be a lot to cut. A lot. Lots and lots. Whole bunches of cuts. As-far-as-the-eye-can-see cuts. Right? RIGHT??

President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have increased the deficit from $161 billion to $1.75 trillion in two years! The "cut" is to $1.17 trillion in 2010. The panic of 2008-2009 required one-time expenditures to arrest the fear, but the Democrats used the crisis as an excuse to print billions and billions of dollars. And they refuse to stop.
Hmmm, that's not much of a cut, is it? $1.75T down to a paltry $1.17T. Up from $161B. You'd have to add up George Bush's final-year deficit over ten times just to get to Obama's starting figure.

Does that sound like a sane fiscal policy to you? Would you suddenly start spending ten times what you make without a corresponding increase in income? Could you? Possibly, but not for very long.

If you think that massive federal spending has no effect on the economic climate of the country, you're pretty much alone in your delusion. Many people, some with access to calculators, don't think it's a good thing. Our own Congressional Budget Office predicts sluggish growth due to the imbalance between GDP and the debt.

The farcical aspect of this is that Obama thinks this is the way to operate a country and that everything is hunky-dory. He's also not alone. He's been aided by economic illiterates in Congress who have proposed their own little spending agendas over and above Obama's. It's like a play where the King of a once-prosperous country decides to take a vacation to a distant land for several months and allows the court jester to run it, just for giggles. A court jester with third-stage syphillis, where large parts of the brain just aren't there any more.

It would be a laugh riot on stage, where it belongs. In real life, not so much.

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