Powered by Blogger

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Obama budget

As usual, Digby over at Hullabaloo pretty much nails my attitude about the budget, which cuts lots of good programs, while leaving the wealthiest with their tax cuts and big industries like oil with their subsidies:

The government is not like a family figuring out how to cut back on expenses [she points this out a lot]. (If it is Dad is a real deadbeat because he decided to give up half his income last December to some rich frat boys.) And this isn't really about programs President Obama "cares about" or about how "tough" it is for him. President Obama will not have to personally worry about these things and neither will his children, so the idea that he "cares" is just a tiny bit abstract in this context. This is about actual human beings and their ability to survive now and build a decent future.

The main problem with all this, of course, is that he willingly signed a tax cut extension for the wealthiest people on the planet just two months ago even as they are making money hand over fist as it is, so any talk about "shared sacrifice" rings just a little bit hollow now. If he wants to be honest about this and admit that he's catering to spoiled plutocrats and Wall Street Demi-Gods because he truly believes that he needs to sacrifice ordinary Americans on the alter of their egos, that's one thing. But blowing smoke about how this hurts him just as much as the college kid who has to drop out in a terrible labor market --- but he's willing to make the sacrifice and so should we --- well, it is too cynically cheap for words.

Paul Krugman summarizes the public perception really well (and with some humor) in his NY Times column yesterday:

Republican leaders like to claim that the midterms gave them a mandate for sharp cuts in government spending. Some of us believe that the elections were less about spending than they were about persistent high unemployment, but whatever. The key point to understand is that while many voters say that they want lower spending, press the issue a bit further and it turns out that they only want to cut spending on other people.

That’s the lesson from a new survey by the Pew Research Center, in which Americans were asked whether they favored higher or lower spending in a variety of areas. It turns out that they want more, not less, spending on most things, including education and Medicare. They’re evenly divided about spending on aid to the unemployed and — surprise — defense.

The only thing they clearly want to cut is foreign aid, which most Americans believe, wrongly, accounts for a large share of the federal budget.

Pew also asked people how they would like to see states close their budget deficits. Do they favor cuts in either education or health care, the main expenses states face? No. Do they favor tax increases? No. The only deficit-reduction measure with significant support was cuts in public-employee pensions — and even there the public was evenly divided.

The moral is clear. Republicans don’t have a mandate to cut spending; they have a mandate to repeal the laws of arithmetic.

. . . [voters] don’t have the time or the incentive to study the federal budget, let alone state budgets (which are by and large incomprehensible). So they rely on what they hear from seemingly authoritative figures.

And what they’ve been hearing ever since Ronald Reagan is that their hard-earned dollars are going to waste, paying for vast armies of useless bureaucrats (payroll is only 5 percent of federal spending) and welfare queens driving Cadillacs. How can we expect voters to appreciate fiscal reality when politicians consistently misrepresent that reality?

Which brings me back to the Republican dilemma. The new House majority promised to deliver $100 billion in spending cuts — and its members face the prospect of Tea Party primary challenges if they fail to deliver big cuts. Yet the public opposes cuts in programs it likes — and it likes almost everything.



Post a Comment

<< Home