Budgeting – Three Card Monty Style
Posted by Euroranger on February 14, 2011
Quick post today on one of the things that’s most wrong with our country. There are two types of wrong people in the world: people who do the wrong thing even though they know better and people who do the wrong thing because they didn’t know better. This is quick example of that second kind.
Lots and lots of people have opinions about all kinds of things. By and large, most of those people are sane, level-headed normal folk like you, and most of the time, me. How then on issues like politics do we have such a sharp divide in the United States? When you encounter someone who disagrees with you on what you think is a fundamentally easy issue to agree on, have you ever considered that they’re simply not just brain-numbingly stupid? People form their opinions using two tools: the facts and their values wherein they weigh the facts and determine the facts’ importance to them in coming to an opinion. It’s easy to understand that not everyone shares the same values. However, it’s not too obtuse to suggest that collectively, our values in many areas are pretty much the same. If you accept that most Americans’ values on most things are fairly similar then it’s the facts portion of the formula for deriving an opinion that might could be the culprit.
For a long time certain groups in the country have railed against the bias of mainstream media and suggest that the facts are selectively delivered (or omitted) and accompanied by a large dose of political bias on the part of the journalist. I happen to be a very discerning reader of the news and I do see this quite often…and today provided an excellent example of that.
Case in point: the president delivered his proposed 2011-2012 budget today. I’d like you to read the Associated Press story on this budget that I just read via my Yahoo homepage a few moments ago. If you’d prefer to skip it, I’ve helpfully bullet noted all the actual pertinent news the article contains (and some that it doesn’t but should) afterward:
Obama unveils $3.73 trillion budget for 2012
By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger, Ap Economics Writer – 2 hrs 2 mins ago
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is sending Congress a $3.73 trillion spending blueprint that pledges $1.1 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade through spending cuts and tax increases.
Obama’s new budget projects that the deficit for the current year will surge to an all-time high of $1.65 trillion. That reflects a sizable tax-cut agreement reached with Republicans in December. For 2012, the administration sees the imbalance declining to $1.1 trillion, giving the country a record four straight years of $1 trillion-plus deficits.
Jacob Lew, Obama’s budget director, said that the president’s spending proposal was a balanced package of spending cuts and “shared sacrifice” that would bring the deficits under control. Appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Lew said that Obama’s budget would “stand the test that we live within our means and we invest in the future.”
Senior administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the formal release of the budget, said that Obama would achieve two-thirds of his projected $1.1 trillion in deficit savings through spending cuts including a five-year freeze on many domestic programs.
The other one-third of the savings would come from tax increases, including limiting tax deductions for high income taxpayers, a proposal Obama put forward last year only to have it rejected in Congress.
The Obama budget recommendation, which is certain to be changed by Congress, would spend $3.73 trillion in the 2012 budget year, which begins Oct. 1, a reduction of 2.4 percent from what Obama projects will be spent in the current budget year.
The Obama plan would fall far short of the $4 trillion in deficit cuts recommended in a December report by his blue-ribbon deficit commission. That panel said that real progress on the deficit cannot be made without tackling the government’s big three entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — and defense spending.
Obama concentrated his cuts in the one-tenth of the budget that covers most domestic agencies, projecting $400 billion in savings from a five-year freeze in this area. Some programs would not just see spending frozen at 2010 spending levels but would be targeted for sizable cuts.
Republicans, who took control of the House in the November elections and picked up seats in the Senate in part because of voter anger over the soaring deficits, called Obama’s efforts too timid. They want spending frozen at 2008 levels before efforts to fight a deep recession boosted spending in the past two years.
They are scheduled to begin debating on Tuesday a proposal that would trim spending by $61 billion for the seven months left in the current budget year, which ends Sept. 30. They also have vowed to push for tougher cuts in 2012 and future years.
“Americans don’t want a spending freeze at unsustainable levels,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. “They want cuts, dramatic cuts.”
The president’s projected $1.65 trillion deficit for the current year would be the highest dollar amount ever, surpassing the $1.41 trillion deficit hit in 2009. It would also represent 10.8 percent of the total economy, the highest level since the deficit stood at 21.5 percent of gross domestic product in 1945, reflecting heavy borrowing to fight World War II.
The president’s 2012 budget projects that the deficits will total $7.21 trillion over the next decade with the imbalances never falling lower below $607 billion, a figure that would still exceed the previous deficit record before Obama took office of $458.6 billion in 2008, President George W. Bush’s last year in office.
Administration officials project that the deficits will be trimmed to 3.2 percent of GDP by 2015 — one-third of the projected 2011 imbalance and a level they said was sustainable.
While cutting many programs, the new budget does propose spending increases in selected areas of education, biomedical research, energy efficiency, high-speed rail and other areas Obama judged to be important to the country’s future competitiveness in a global economy.
In the energy area, the budget would support Obama’s goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 and doubling the nation’s share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.
The budget proposes program terminations or spending reductions for more than 200 programs at an estimated savings of $33 billion in 2012. Programs targeted for large cuts included Community Development Block Grants, trimmed by $300 million, while a program that helps pay heating bills for low-income families would be cut in half for a savings of $2.5 billion while a program supporting environmental restoration of the Great Lakes would be reduced by one-fourth for $125 million in savings.
The biggest tax hike would come from a proposal to trim the deductions the wealthiest Americans can claim for charitable contributions, mortgage interest and state and local tax payments. The administration proposed this tax hike last year but it was a nonstarter in Congress.
Obama’s budget would also raise $46 billion over 10 years by eliminating various tax breaks to oil, gas and coal companies.
While Obama’s budget avoided painful choices in entitlement programs, it did call for $78 billion in reductions to Pentagon spending over the next decade by trimming what it views as unnecessary weapons programs such as the C-17 aircraft, the alternative engine for the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and the Marine expeditionary vehicle.
Administration officials said that the savings from limiting tax deductions for high income taxpayers would be used to pay for keeping the Alternative Minimum Tax from hitting more middle-class families over the next two years.
Another $62 billion in savings would be devoted to paying to prevent cuts in payments to doctors in the Medicare program over the next two years. Congress has for several years blocked the cuts from taking effect.
The budget will propose $1 billion in cuts in grants for large airports, almost $1 billion in reduced support to states for water treatment plants and other infrastructure programs and savings from consolidating public health programs run by the Centers for Disease Control and various U.S. Forest Service programs.
The administration will also propose saving $100 billion from Pell Grants and other higher education programs over a decade through belt-tightening with the savings used to keep the maximum college financial aid award at $5,550, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the budget’s Monday release.
The surge in deficits reflect the deep 2007-2009 recession, the worst since the Great Depression, which cut into government tax revenues as millions were thrown out of work and prompted massive government spending to jump-start economic growth and stabilize the banking system.
Republicans point to still-elevated unemployment levels and charge the stimulus programs were a failure. The administration contends the spending was needed to keep the country from falling into an even deeper slump.
I know that’s a long article but what did you glean from all that? Did you know that the tone of the article is set within the first sentence and paragraph and that most people will reiterate the general message of those words as though that was the facts the article delivered? It’s true and it’s manipulation at it’s worst in this case. Let’s re-read that first bit again:
President Barack Obama is sending Congress a $3.73 trillion spending blueprint that pledges $1.1 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade through spending cuts and tax increases.
Reading that, one might think that the president delivered a budget aimed at fighting the federal deficit and finally getting the message that we cannot afford to be spending borrowed money like it’s going out of style. However, if you carefully read the article again a second time you will be exposed to these facts…although perhaps not truly appreciate their import in face of the article’s initial claim of “deficit savings”. Some of those facts are:
- He’s introducing a $3.73 trillion budget. Know what the budget was last year? The year voters supposedly got fed up with big government spending? The election wherein Obama claimed “he gets it” and heard the will of the American people? It was $3.456 trillion. That’s right…Obama saying he gets it means we add another 7.9% to the friggin’ already bloated budget. Remember now…the nice writers at AP told us this budget will result in “$1.1 trillion in deficit savings”. How the hell is that? IT’S A BIGGER BUDGET IN A YEAR WHEN TAX REVENUES ARE DOWN! Increasing the spending when you’re not increasing what you bring in is called a deficit!
- In fact, despite AP’s initial claim that the budget somehow (presumably through the use of magic) will result in $1.1 trillion in deficit savings, they do go on to admit “that the deficit for the current year will surge to an all-time high of $1.65 trillion“. However, they manage to explain that away with the next line: “That reflects a sizable tax-cut agreement reached with Republicans in December”. In case you’re keeping track at home: largest budget ever in history introduced, largest deficit in American history proposed, it’s all the Republicans’ fault for not letting the federal government tax us even harder. Of course by “us” I mean those nasty rich people…so not really us. It’s okay to be discriminatory as long as it’s on the basis of the rewards of success, regardless of how you manage to succeed. American dream indeed.
- This one needs to be quoted in its entirety because to chop it up would allow all the comedic gold to escape: “Jacob Lew, Obama’s budget director, said that the president’s spending proposal was a balanced package of spending cuts and “shared sacrifice” that would bring the deficits under control.” Note to Jacob Lew: “balanced” doesn’t actually mean what you and Barry apparently think it means…not when “balanced” to you guys means a $1.1 trillion difference between what we take in and what we spend. How the hell does anyone not currently suffering from a seeping head wound believe that a $1.1 trillion shortfall means bringing such shortfalls under control?!?!
The rest of the article contains the usual left leaning blame laying for and obfuscation of Obama’s horrifically outrageous budget and the fact that he obviously DIDN’T get it this past November. The writers even quote the blue ribbon deficit commission that recommended somebody someday having to address the big three budget killers: “that panel said that real progress on the deficit cannot be made without tackling the government’s big three entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security“…but then simply couldn’t resist tossing in their entirely personally opinion based 4th item “and defense spending“. It’s almost as if by quoting a legitimate study’s findings that mentions THREE programs that they believe nobody that reads their tripe will notice that FOUR quoted items isn’t THREE…but they might come away with the mistaken impression that the deficit panel included defense spending as one of the Big Three. Hey, it’s just news…what’s a little political opinion, right? Not like news should be objective and unbiased, right?
Look, I’m piling on Barry because it’s his budget. I didn’t vote for the fraud but I am an American and I hate to see the future of our nation sold down the river by any president regardless of party affiliation…and this one is doing just that. We don’t need MORE spending. We need LESS. Do you expect to get a 7.9% raise in your paycheck next year? Well, if you didn’t what the hell are you doing? Barry believes the government should get one…or at least will spend like they will (hint: they won’t). You would think that this complete failure as a president would take a lesson from what’s happened in Tunisia and Egypt lately and realize that people have a limit. In their cases, it was dictators. In ours (as we demonstrated around 230+ years back) it’s fiscal repression by a government who can’t seem to be concerned with what they’re doing to the people they govern. We’ve done it once and at the rate we’re going, we’ll end up having to do it again.
What’s almost worse though is that the mechanisms we the people are supposed to use to know what’s going on (a free and unhindered press) were at some point co-opted by those who seemingly cannot deliver a news story without trying to slant it to deliver some kind of political message. And this is the AP. I have to tell you, Reuters is unashamedly worse. I can hardly read a new story coming from Reuters anymore without hip waders and a healthy fresh breath before I slosh on in. How are Americans supposed to form an educated opinion on their own when the news they receive comes pre-tainted with this crap?
My name is Euroranger and I approved this message.