Sunday, March 3, 2013

Poking holes in Obama's Chicken Little scare-tactics on spending cuts

Two days ago, President Barack Obama labeled the automatic budget cuts about to take effect as "dumb" and "unnecessary" -- and then blamed Republicans for the failure to avert them. The funny thing is (well, actually there is nothing funny about this) but Barack Obama himself is the one who conceived the plan in the first place. So in other words, the original spending cuts - all paltry $85 billion of them - were Obama's idea and now he's trying to blame it on the Republicans. Can we call that leadership?

Now he's crying that this meaningless - and I do mean meaningless - cut in spending will destroy America. Jobs will be lost, seniors will lose medical care, children will starve to death. These are all basically the charges our supposed leader has put forth in his scare-tactic rhetoric in the past few weeks. Is this really how a president is supposed to lead - by terrifying Americans? What's worse is that his Chicken Little fear mongering is all based on lies.

The spending cuts in question are, even taken at face value, absolutely nothing compared to what we spend daily. What Obama is so hysterical about is less than a drop in the bucket and will do nothing to harm us. In fact, the cuts are so small, they won't even really help us. On top of it, the cuts are really more about an agreement not to spend as much as the president would have liked. That's like saying you were going to spend $100 on new shoes, but decided to spend only $80, so now you're claiming that you reduced spending by $20. It's all a sham.

What's particularly galling is that Obama wants to increase spending - and wants to get the money from us through new tax increases in addition to the ones he just got from us on Jan. 1, 2013. Democrats are carrying the torch for Obama saying that the prosperity of the late 1990s was because of Clinton's tax hikes, so that's why we need them again now to spur our current economy.

But what was successful about Clinton's terms in office had to do with his spending cuts, not his tax hikes. In his eight years as President, Clinton reduced federal spending to 18.2 percent of GDP from 22.1 percent, thanks in large part to a Republican-controlled Congress that forced the issue.  Defense spending as a portion of GDP declined by 1.8 points, but non-defense spending dropped by 2.2 points.  Clinton and the Republicans in Congress cut spending on domestic discretionary programs as well as entitlement spending through welfare reform. That's what turned things around for the economy.

Obama cannot remotely claim that he has done the same. In fact, what Obama hopes none of us knows is that 2012 was the fourth consecutive year with a trillion-dollar-plus deficit. Total federal debt has surpassed $16 trillion, and federal spending  hit the $3.6 trillion mark in 2012.

Of course, people love to blame all this on George W. Bush. It's true that Bush increased federal spending as a share of GDP by 2.6 points in two terms, and it wasn’t just spent on defense; the increase was split evenly between defense and non-defense spending, a remarkable statistic considering the two wars waged in those eight years. 

But just looking at government websites on spending, Obama hiked federal spending by 3.5 points in just his first term. Under Obama, federal spending now exceeds 25 percent of GDP, which has been the biggest increase of any of his predecessors over the last 60 years – even for two-term Presidents.

Despite this utterly insane spending - which Obama wants to increase -  he says there are no places we can cut meaningful spending without obliterating America.

Oh, really? What if we at least started by cutting some of these programs:

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture spends $200 million a year to help trade associations and cooperatives advertise their products in foreign markets. In 2011, it funded a reality TV show in India because it advertised U.S. cotton.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency spent $141,450 to fund a Chinese study on swine manure, and gave $1.2 million to the U.N. for clean fuel promotion.
  • The government spent $10 million for algae harvesting.
  • The federal government spent $325,000 on a robotic squirrel named "RoboSquirrel" to study how a rattlesnake would react to it.
  • An airport in Oklahoma receives one flight per month, has zero planes based there, and is located just a couple miles from two more heavily used airports, but the federal government spends $450,000 a year to keep it open.
  • $2.5 billion a year is wasted on food stamps used to buy alcohol, cigarettes and fast-food despite the fact they are intended to be used to make sure hungry kids get healthful meals.
  • $27 million was spent to study the competitiveness of Morocco, including funding Moroccan pottery classes to see how well they'd do in the market.
  • The government pays as much as $2 million annually in monthly service fees to maintain about 28,000 phantom grant accounts that are empty and have expired.
  • $947,000 was spent to study recipes for pizza and about 100 other foods that could one day be served on Mars.
  • While too many Americans are struggling just to put basic food staples on their table, the federal government spent $300,000 in 2012 to promote the caviar market.
  • The federal government has earmarked over $9 million to a failing for-profit ferry verging on bankruptcy, which very few people benefitted from and a small town in Alaska did not want. Privately owned competitors are suffering economically because of this.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. While our president, the one who was supposed to unite and lead us, carries on his toddler-esque tantrums about the end of the world, his demands for endless spending, if granted, will only expedite the end of America. And while the federal government continues to threaten our currency value through the constant printing of new money, we better not get complacent about things. Yet you can be assured that any fallout from Obama's disastrous spending and other policies will be blamed on someone else.

It's time Obama's followers open their eyes and recognize that the absolutely worst type of administrator is the one who recommends utterly reckless policies, and then blames those under him for the consequences. There is an old saying, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." Obama is certainly not leading. He is not setting good examples and he is not being faithful to the oath of office he took to protect and preserve America.

He is, however, leading the country to ruin, and all he can say is that it's someone else's fault. I don't know what exactly to call that, but I wouldn't call it leadership.

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