Third Party & Independents Archives

Spending isn't the only thing Obama's budget is full of

It fascinates me how the right wing so fiercely attacks Barack Obama as being a “Marxist, Commie, Leftist, Liberal” when his actions so clearly dictate that he is anything but.

Take, for example, the president’s 2012 budget proposal. A true “America-hating Liberal” would have started with a budget that presents a demand for absolutely everything to be funded by the federal government, and then the “America-loving Conservatives” would have presented their budget which demands funding for only the rich and the corporate, and a slashing of all things public and welfare-esque (which, essentially, they did). The polar partisans would initiate their battle from diametrically opposing positions and - in the sense of government cooperation - negotiate to a reasonable middle ground.

But Obama's budget doesn't do that. In fact, Obama's budget is so gratuitously capitulating to the Republicans' demands that it is almost completely right-wing partisan at the onset. And what are the Republicans doing in response? Are they recognizing the box of glazed donuts Obama just handed them? No, they demand crescent rolls and coffee, too.

America faces a record federal deficit and a growing debt that threatens to bankrupt our country. Unfortunately, the budget Obama delivered last week does not rise to the challenge. In fact, it cowers in the shadows. Three amounts caught my eye when I read through the budget highlights: $8.7 trillion, $1.6 trillion and $13 trillion. These three numbers are the amount of new spending, new taxes and new debt, respectively, in Obama's fiscal courting to Congress.

Budgeting for Dummies teaches us that when you lose income, you cut spending. Having less to spend means you spend less. Simple, right? But this is the federal government we’re talking about, and despite all my desire that we could just have Charles Grodin go into the Congressional Budget Office and show, line-by-line to Obama and Boehner exactly where the stupidity, graft, redundancy and fraud is happening in the budget (a la the movie "Dave"), that's just not going to happen. Federal budgeting today is a challenge of two competing shell games. The Democrats try to hide spending under one shell, while Republicans try to hide corporate welfare under another.

America is being starved of tax revenue, and the problem was just compounded by the stupefying act of extending the Bush era tax cuts which robbed the federal coffers of what would have been an additional $800 Billion. Republicans demanded the continuation of the cuts to appease their corporate owners, and Obama continued them so maybe some of the Republicans would start liking him again.

The picture could not be more black-and-white: Tax receipts are going to plummet by 18 percent this year, the biggest single-year decline since the Great Depression. Meanwhile, the federal deficit balloons to a record $1.8 trillion. An Associated Press analysis further illustrates the recession’s impact: Individual income tax receipts are off by 22 percent from a year ago. Corporate income taxes are down 57 percent. Social Security tax receipts could drop for only the second time since 1940, and Medicare taxes are going to fall for only the third time ever.

One of the primary problems we're facing is that our President and Congress (both sides) believe themselves to be above convention wisdom. When the clear, sensible, logical solution is "A," they concoct a slew of stupid, transparent and politically jargon-filled reasons why we must do "B." And always, without exception, Option "B" always seems to somehow benefit the uber-wealthy and the executive seed, and take ever more from the workers who provide the tax dollars being squandered.

For all the bluster, posturing and faux-indignation being portrayed on the political stages both left and right, there is no escaping the painfully obvious recognition that neither party truly gives a damn about fixing the economy. If they did, neither party would maintain their desperate protection-at-all-costs of the budgets for the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Medicare/Medicaid and the Department of Energy - which account for 88 PERCENT OF THE BUDGET. Instead, they're niggling over real purse-killers like home heating oil subsidies for the poor, student textbook funding and which Congressman cut his staff budget by a higher percentage after already increased that budget for the past three consecutive years. They're picking at threads on a blanket that doesn't amount to pennies in the grand scheme of budget management.

How anyone can look at the pathetic chicanery being displayed by both Republicans and Democrats over what should be a simple mathematical equation is beyond me.

In addition to trillions in new spending, this budget's big-government approach includes $1.6 trillion in new taxes. As many blue-collar workers, entrepreneurs, small businesses and families know, taxes are debilitating to job creation and hamstring savings and investment, not to mention simple making-ends-meet.

New taxes and new spending are not the only things this budget is proposing. We are now staring down a budget that adds $13 trillion to our debt - doubling today's debt in the next 10 years. These numbers are staggering, and sobering, and should be just plain frightening to any worker, family, entrepreneur or small business owner who hopes for a strong, secure and prosperous future.

Anyone who's ever balanced a checkbook knows that when you don't have enough scratch to cover your bills, you have one of two choices: Cut your expenses or get more income. Unfortunately, the president's budget proposal doesn't even attempt to make these hard choices. Instead of cutting spending, the president chose to increase it - at an unsustainable rate. Instead of reining in the debt, this budget balloons it. Instead of ending tax cuts to increase revenue, the president caved to GOP pressure and extended one of the foremost campaign positions he raised himself upon when seeking election. That whole "tax cuts for anyone making less than $250,000 per year?" POOF! Like a dandelion in a hurricane.

This budget not only ignores the warnings from Obama's own economists and flagrantly dismisses the demands of the general public, it just reeks of "business as usual" in Washington; politics for nothing other than politics' sake. The greater good of the American people doesn't even enter the picture.

Challenging times call for leadership and tough choices, and this budget proposal fails on both counts. Until we see a fiscal leader who has the intestinal fortitude to stand up and say "Enough already!" and begin using simple, basic 2-plus-2=equals-4 math instead of Congressional campaign math, the debt crisis - at the federal, state, local and living-room level will not only continue, but get worse.

And playing the election-pendulum game of switching out one corrupt, effete and useless political party for the other every two years isn't going to accomplish squat.

You can't wave a "We're #1" finger when your entire federal financial management is full of number two.

Posted by Gary St. Lawrence at February 20, 2011 3:21 PM
Comments
Comment #318932

The real question is what he can actually do. He has to deal with Republican Congress that can block any tax increase, block any additional healthcare reform (what we will really need to tackle the number one fiscal problem)

Obama’s never been one, in my experience to push proposals he doesn’t expect to pass. Some folks criticize him for his compromise in advance methods, and perhaps rightly so. But my feeling is that he’ll push what he believes he can get through.

The issue, I think, is whether folks on the left simply roll their eyes again and resign themselves to cynical resignation over what the right’s doing, or whether we start raising some peaceful political hell over this irresponsible budget. If we don’t raise hell, we certainly don’t encourage safety-conscious representatives to do so. If they feel folks will stay home, they won’t take the chance. The question is whether we get politician’s cowardice to work for us, or whether we let it work against us.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 20, 2011 5:35 PM
Comment #318961

Very good post Gary. You are absolutely correct in placing this grotesque budget and debt fiasco at the feet of both political parties. One can not constantly increase spending without increasing the revenue to pay for it. The American people continue to prod their elected representatives for more benefits and show no willingness to pay for those benefits.

What are individual rights of liberty and freedom in our Constitution have become group rights of benefits without expense.

We can balance our national and state budgets and it will take much more than simple political speechifying and the lighting of matches instead of bonfires.

Political leaders express the will of those who get them elected. As a nation, at this time, we have two America’s with nearly the same amount of clout each clamoring for exact opposites. Spend more on my group of individuals, spend more on my favorite corporate goodies or subsidy, spend more on infrastructure, spend more on education, spend more on poverty…the list never ends.

Some would have us believe that all this can be done at the expense of the rich and corporations. Some believe that by simply spending more the government can resuscitate the economy.

I have written previously that we must attack our state and national fiscal problems from both ends. We do need significant reductions in spending and we do need significant increases in taxes. And, the only way that will work well over an extended period of time is for everyone, poor, middle class and rich to feel the pain of past excesses.

In times of great peril, such as wars, famine, floods and such, we have seen Americans come together to help one another. I believe Americans can come together to right our nation’s fiscal problems.

If the political class could come together and cease any new spending (except for national emergency) temporarily increase taxes (both income and payroll) and reduce spending across all (non-essential) government programs by 5%, we could, in five years, solve many of our problems.

Will that actually happen, I doubt it. The will to do something of this nature requires majority public approval. Only with a concerted effort by the WH, house, and senate leaders, speaking with a united voice, can the public be persuaded to swallow the medicine necessary.

Most of our political class would rather continue muddling on until there simply is no remedy other than amputation or death.

We have no quarterbacks in our political arena today. Instead, we simply have cheerleaders. The mighty eagle has fallen and we now have the rotting corpse being picked over by vultures.

Posted by: Royal Flush at February 21, 2011 1:08 PM
Comment #318970


Stephen, you state:

Obama’s never been one, in my experience to push proposals he doesn’t expect to pass. Some folks criticize him for his compromise in advance methods, and perhaps rightly so. But my feeling is that he’ll push what he believes he can get through.

I agree with you, and this really disheartens me about the president. I am really at the point where I cannot give his administration any more support. I mean, think about a general at war and he says that he will only fight the battles that he knows he can win. How pathetic is that? What kind of leadership would that be? I might as well just have a computer to calculate odds of legislation passing and then just press the yes button.

I disagreed with everything the Bush administration stood for, but they sure were good at pushing their agenda. They basically embarrassed democrats into voting for things that they would not have voted for otherwise. Iraq and tax cuts come to mind. They did this by basically calling all democrats cowards and unpatriotic if they did not go along with the administrations agenda. They had a concerted effort on most TV outlets to keep repeating the same message and guess what? It worked. Many in the population began to believe that tax cuts are always good and the Iraq war was a necessity. Therefore, if you were against any of these things you were unAmerican.

If this administration cannot, or will not, do the same thing for liberal principles, then I will no longer support it.

Posted by: John at February 21, 2011 2:21 PM
Comment #318973

John, thank you very much for your post. A leader must lead or step aside.

Posted by: Royal Flush at February 21, 2011 2:45 PM
Comment #318976

Your welcome, Royal. I doubt we would agree on anything that a new, hard nosed, take no prisoners democratic leader (could that be an oxymoron-except for Anthony Wiener from NY) would try to pass. But at least I would like my leader to try as hard as possible to fight for the things I believe in and this president is just not cutting it.

Posted by: John at February 21, 2011 3:00 PM
Comment #318992

John-
Sometimes when you insist on that kind of support, all you get is lip service. Clinton gave great lip service on Healthcare, but got nothing done.

Obama pissed a whole bunch of people off, but something got passed, and people’s lives are better for that.

That, to me, is real leadership. Obama’s no slouch on rhetoric, but he gets things done. The alternative is much like Bush, somebody who is willing to let things get screwed up for the sake of keeping the base happy and loyal.

The world is full of flatterers. Don’t hitch your political support to being flattered. Obama’s gotten more done than the two Democratic presidents before him, got more of what he wanted out of a deadlocked Congress than many would have thought possible.

Give me that guy, the man who silently, subtly gets things done, than the guy whose administration is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 21, 2011 4:46 PM
Comment #318997


The similarities between Clinton, Bush and Obama’s policies are much greater than their differences.

Obama’s lack of leadership skills is very convenient and the Republican leadership opposition is primarily puppet string pulling.

John, back during the primaries and all the Messiah talk, I predicted that Obama would be the president that he has become. There is a fine line between liberal and conservative politicians when it comes to deviating from the status quo of corporate dominated government.

All that talk about all those little contributions from the little people. Those little people have had a cruel joke pulled on them. Let’s see how many of them will be suckered again.

The most striking image representing American politics in the past few decades was John Boehner handing out checks to Representatives from corporate lobbyists on the floor of the House. Number two in your face American people.


Posted by: jlw at February 21, 2011 5:39 PM
Comment #319003

Stephen, you state:

Give me that guy, the man who silently, subtly gets things done, than the guy whose administration is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Throughout most of the history of this country I would normally agree with you. Of course I want a calm rational leader getting things done. However, I’m sad to say that many Americans view everything like a tv reality show. I hate to say it, but I really think they have watched so much TV that they only notice something when you scream in their faces or say something completely outrageous. I also think many of them think they are actually in one. I should conduct an experiment to test this hypothesis.

Anyway, imagine switching Bush’s policies so that he was a democrat and his administration supported health care reform. His administration would have embarrassed the republicans with constant referrals on TV such as: “How can the republicans support letting children die in the street. I thought they cared about our young adorable babies.” By the end you would have thought that the republicans believed that they were in favor of letting kids die needlessly and that only the democrats stood up for innocent children. The public option would have flown through quicker than you can say propaganda.

Posted by: John at February 21, 2011 6:19 PM
Comment #319028


Calm and rational was how the negotiations between Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler were described.

Posted by: jlw at February 21, 2011 11:11 PM
Comment #319033

Gary, excellent post. Could not agree more. There isn’t one of them serious about cutting the deficit, especially the tea baggers. They all talk it but until they increase taxes back to at the very least the Clinton levels they are blowing smoke. Until they increase the taxes to pay for the money borrowed to execute the Iraq and Afghanistan war they are not serious.

Until they increase SS back to the previous levels plus another couple of points and up the ceiling they are not serious. Until they put it in a lock box they are not serious.

Private insurance has went up what 100% or more this past 10 years yet when was the last time medicare/medicaid had a rate increase? Until they increase the measly 2.9% combined rate to reflect reality they are not serious about cutting the debt or the deficit.

Posted by: j2t2 at February 22, 2011 12:08 AM
Comment #319037

Sorry, but posting in two place.

WARNING TO ALL DEMOCRATS; THIS MAY BE DIFFICULT TO SWALLOW

First off I am a democrat, but this bizarre tale of irony went through my head and I cannot let it go:

Go back to to the year 2007/2008. People were losing their jobs, the stock market was tanking, and the housing bubble was bursting. What caused some of these problems? Clearly deregulation-a republican principle. In 2008, American citizens were angry, and rightly so, at the CORRECT people-Wall Street Bankers and CEO’s—Mainly Republican backers. OK makes sense.

2008-In comes Barack Obama. He has the philosophy that govt. can do good and big things to help the American people. He needs to clean up the financial chaos that is left by conservative ideas and makes a huge decision. The decision is to lend a hand to the bankers and CEO’s who caused the financial meltdown. Irony #1 and #2- The republicans do not want him to do the bailout because they believe that the free market should be left to its own devices. Irony #2 If Obama lets the banks and corporations fail, it destroys the very thing that gets republicans elected.

2009/2010 The banks and Wall St. survive and begin the recuperation process (some Ceo’s and bankers’ are even greedy enough to take bonuses at this time), but the average middle class person is still angry and upset because they have lost a lot financially and unemployment is rising. They can no longer blame the banks and ceos now because the president has said that we need to help them out so that we can all recover. IN STEPS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY to fill the void of all this pent up anger. They say, “Hey look the problem isn’t the corporations and greedy bankers it’s the state employees and teachers unions that are to blame.” All eyes and anger turn towards these institutions that really have nothing to do with the crisis. Average middle class worker turns on average middle class worker.

2011 and beyond: Wisconsin, due to irrational public pressure begins to dismantle it’s public unions and this spreads nationwide. The one big player and donor that always supported democratic principles is now gone, and the Democratic party dissolves. The very same corporations that Obama bailed out, support Republican candidates and they dominate from here on out. Over time, middle class wages decrease, benefits are cut and the corporations are now in full control.

The biggest irony of it all is that the very thing that democrats believe in (govt. helping the average person) ends up destroying them, and the thing that the republicans wanted Obama to do, (allow the free market to decide) would have destroyed them, but does not, because Obama intervened to save them.

Ouch that hurts! Anyone help me off the ledge? Anyone?

Posted by: John at February 22, 2011 12:48 AM
Comment #319052

RE the word “commie” Leftists like to use it as parody. I guess they like the sound. When last have you heard anybody use that term who was not trying to do a parody or pretend to be from the 1950s?

I don’t think President Obama is influenced by communism, which is essentially a dead ideology. He is, however, fond of government solutions to problems where government might not be the best fit. He has learned from experience in the last couple of years and become less of a leftist, at least that is what he says. Experience will do that to you. But he remains significantly left of the American middle, so it is fair to call him a leftist.

Re liberal, nobody seems to like to be called that anymore. Even the 20% of Americans who identify with liberal kind of say it in hushed tones. If you are ashamed to call yourself something, maybe that something is nothing to be proud of.

jlw

Not a good idea to compare Obama to either Hitler or Chamberlain. Somebody might take it out of context and call it racist.

Posted by: C&J at February 22, 2011 5:11 PM
Comment #319056

John I don’t want to rain on your parade but the reality is the bail out of Wall St. was signed into law by GWB in OCT.2008 a month prior to Obama being elected to the office and over 3 months before he took office.

I guess this just goes to show how people have forgotten the actual events of the time. Even Dems think Obama signed this bill into law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Economic_Stabilization_Act_of_2008

Posted by: j2t2 at February 22, 2011 8:04 PM
Comment #319058

j2t2,

Thank you for me reminding me. I feel better already. This thing in Wisconsin has infuriated me. But it may end up being a good thing, as it reminds people what side each party supports.

I would also like to ask every employee, who has any ties to the Koch bros. business ventures to call in sick, permanently. These guys are something else. I mean it has to be difficult to work for these two complete ******** ‘s

Posted by: John at February 22, 2011 8:48 PM
Comment #319081

John and J2T2,
Actually President Bush signed the bailout under protest (his words “I was told I had no other chose). As far as the Koch bros. goes, I would like to see his employees leak the memos which show how they are acting against the Best Interest of America and other Corporations. In fact, a certain financial statement would ser the entire house of cards on fire.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 23, 2011 12:00 AM
Comment #319084

Henry Schlatman said:

“Actually President Bush signed the bailout under protest (his words “I was told I had no other chose).”


Interesting, Henry.

But if that’s the case, why did Fox News report on Oct. 3, 2008: “The government “acted boldly” to prevent the Wall Street crisis from spreading, Bush said shortly after the vote, although he conceded, “our economy continues to face serious challenges.” ~ link text

And why did Fox News report “Bush Praises Senate Passage Of Bailout” on Oct. 2, 2008? ~ link text

And why did THe Wall Street Journal report via unedited video on Oct. 3, 2008: “President Bush Praises Passage of Bailout”? ~ link text

Doesn’t sound like anything Bush did was “under protest” to me. Are you sure that’s the story you want to stick with?

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at February 23, 2011 12:52 AM
Comment #319095

John-
Here is what I would say: Bush had the unquestioned support of his party, a party that had been winning more and more political victories over the Democrats for the last thirty years, until finally they didn’t.

Obama, on the other hand, has to deal with a political party that’s just learning now, in the last few years to think like winners, to unite like folks who have a common fate, rather than just different factions of a minority without real power for whom disagreement doesn’t change the power dynamic much.

I will admit, with no reservation, that the Democrats are not the party we need at the moment. The trouble, from my perspective, is that some people see that as a political reality, rather than a challenge to step in their as voters and activists and transform our party to rise to the occasion. If you accept how badly things are working as a reality against which your efforts are futile, then you’ve created a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.

If we want control, we’re going to have to take control. Power will not be given up without a fight, and in times like these, it’s often the people of the party, not the so-called leaders, who have to lead the way, not allowing things to settle until they are satisfied, not quitting until they get what they want.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 23, 2011 11:39 AM
Comment #319096

C&J-
Well, you know, the fact that such a comparison is false might be a better starting point than “people might misinterpret it”.

I mean, hell, man, calling a person the Twentieth Century’s worse tyrant, or the said tyrant’s most famous appeaser… Don’t you think that person crossed a worse line than political incorrectness a few hidden premises back?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 23, 2011 11:43 AM
Comment #319117

Stephen

I was trying to be nice to my liberal friends. Indeed, they should not have made the comparison.

But what if I had said that liberals are … pick the insult for making the comparison?

BTW

Rep. Michael Capuano, a Massachusetts Democrat, said this yesterday at a Boston “solidarity” rally: “I’m proud to be here with people who understand that it’s more than just sending an email to get you going. Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary.”

Another liberal double standard.

Posted by: C&J at February 23, 2011 6:50 PM
Comment #319167

C&J wrote: Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary. Another liberal double standard.


Uh huh … because conservatives never contradict themselves, do they? Like attacking gay rights and then getting caught trolling for blow-jobs in an airport mens’ room.

Or sending 130,000 soldier off to a war you started and then saying “tough sh*t, you go to war with what you have, not what you want” when it’s revealed that you cut corners on their equipment funding.

Or starting any promise with “Read my lips” and then doing exactly what you said you were not going to do.

Those are all Democrat examples, as far as you can see from your tunnel.

And for the record, exposing and commenting on Republican failures and lies does not automatically make someone a liberal. It only seems that way to you because of your programming.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at February 24, 2011 12:14 AM
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