Tuesday, April 21, 2009

They Think We're Stupid

When the Obama cabinet meets today, the President plans to ask them to find $100 million in government efficiency savings. That's a lot of money. Everyone in America knows that $100 million is a huge sum. Except it's not when you are dealing with the Federal Government. In the Federal budget scheme of things it is table sweepings, I'm afraid. In a nearly $4 trillion budget, $100 million disappears pretty fast.

If you are a $50,000 a year family and you were to economize in the same proportion that the President is suggesting, you would need to find $1.50 sometime this year that you did not spend. In other words, the amount being saved in this latest Presidential initiative is the equivalent of one large McDonald's soft drink to the average middle class family.

But it gets even worse. The President is not asking his cabinet to cut real spending. He is asking them to find cuts off the baseline, meaning that they cannot spend money that they wanted to spend, but really haven't spent yet. So, this is like the family saying, "At sometime this year we planned to buy a soft drink. We'll fore go that one soft drink in an effort to economize." Do you think your banker would buy that as a good faith exercise?

But you see, the White House thinks we're stupid. If they parade out a cabinet meeting and talk about cutting Federal spending, they think we will not know the difference between the trillions they are spending and the $100 million they are going to "save". When you say $100 million, it actually can sound to most people like more than $4 trillion. That's because the only numbers we can really comprehend are 100 and 4. Millions, billions, and trillions are unfathomable concepts for nearly everyone.

So, the White House is countering the Tea Parties that asked for less spending, less taxes and less debt with a phony public relations gimmick that will do next to nothing but will provide a speech point on the teleprompter for weeks to come. Listen for the speech line that says that the Obama Administration is clamping down on spending and in its first few weeks forced the departments of government to find $100 million in budget cuts. It will be true, sort of, but will be meaningless in the whole reality of President Obama's program of massive Federal intervention into the economy accompanied by massive new debt and deficit.

But the White House is counting on each of us. They're counting on us to be too stupid to notice the difference between $100 million of savings in projected spending and $1.7 trillion in real deficits this year.

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