I saw this Wall Street Journal piece by Stephen Moore earlier this morning and wanted to express an opinion but since I had to do actual work, Matt Welch at Reason beat me to it.
What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: “At one point several weeks ago,” Mr. Boehner says, “the president said to me, ‘We don’t have a spending problem.’ ”
The president’s insistence that Washington doesn’t have a spending problem, Mr. Boehner says, is predicated on the belief that massive federal deficits stem from what Mr. Obama called “a health-care problem.” Mr. Boehner says that after he recovered from his astonishment—”They blame all of the fiscal woes on our health-care system”—he replied: “Clearly we have a health-care problem, which is about to get worse with ObamaCare. But, Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem.” He repeated this message so often, he says, that toward the end of the negotiations, the president became irritated and said: “I’m getting tired of hearing you say that.”
If this quote is accurate, it is both stunning and unsurprising. Stunning, because of this chart:
Note how federal spending, adjusted for inflation, zoomed between 2001 and 2010 on such non-health-related categories as military (70.5%), “other” (64.1%), and non-defense discretionary (55.9%). Overall federal spending has exploded, from $1.77 trillion in fiscal year 2000 to $3.72 trillion in fiscal 2010. If Washington had pegged federal government growth since 2000 to the rates of inflation and population growth, we would be spending well under $3 trillion today, and talking about what to do with the surplus.
At the same time, Obama’s alleged quote is unsurprising, because a vast swath of Democrats well and truly believe that spending is not a problem.
Here’s Steve Benen, at Rachel Maddow’s blog: “Sorry, Boehner, spending isn’t the problem.” OrNew York magazine’s Jonathan Chait: “There really isn’t money to be cut everywhere….The spending cuts aren’t there because they can’t be found.” Or Mother Jones‘ Kevin Drum: “We don’t have a spending problem. We have an aging problem.”
Combine that with the widespread belief, articulated most recently by Robert Reich, thatwe have no entitlements problem either, and you get a clearer picture of how federal spending could almost double in a decade in the face of progressive complaints about “austerity”: It’s because Democrats are in denial about the true cost of their (yes) ideological commitments. If we taxed Americans enough to cover the cost (or even 90 percent of the cost) of what Democrats consider the minimal level of government, the result would be recession. That should, but won’t, give big-government apologists pause.
This is what just stuns me about the liberal contingent in America – the Washington clique that includes the liberals and “progressive” Republicans treat the national finances as if they were throwing around Monopoly money on a game board. It has reached a point where the numbers we talk about – millions, billions and now trillions – are meaningless because they are just so incomprehensible to the average American who worries about a filling a 20 gallon gas tank that cost $35 6 years ago that now costs $75 -double that – today.
But put the preceding information together with this from Rush’s show last week:
CALLER: Hello. I want to make a comment, a message to everybody sitting on Capitol Hill right now. (crying) I have two sets of twins under the age of three. My family is about to do without! (sobs) Obamacare’s $135 is gonna come out of our paycheck and hit us, plus the Social Security taxes have risen another $80 per check. (sob) That’s almost $300 my family, four kids under the age three, is gonna do without. We just filed Chapter 7 a few months ago! The economy is still recovering. How are we gonna survive when they are hitting us with these tax rates?
RUSH: You know, Natalia, I’m gonna tell you the truth. I don’t think… It’s what I just said. I don’t think the people in Washington have the slightest clue what you’re going through. If you go to Washington, you know what? Every restaurant’s open. Every restaurant’s profitable. All the shops are open. The unemployment in Washington and the surrounding environs is 3%. Washington’s where all the money is, and everybody in Washington is doing well, and nobody’s being fired. Nobody’s being laid off. They’re getting raises, in fact.
They don’t have the slightest clue in Washington what this economy is actually like for people like you.
All of our money is being redistributed to Washington. It’s a boomtown. There’s no evidence of the economic collapse in our nation’s capital. In fact, I think the ZIP codes around Washington happen to be now in the top five wealthiest ZIP codes in the country. Stands to reason. That’s where all the money is. That’s where it goes to be redistributed. It’s where all the people get their mitts on it. They don’t have the slightest clue. Look at Obama. He goes off to Hawaii, what is a trip out and back, four million bucks on Air Force One? Not to mention what it’s costing us to rent his home when he’s out there. They haven’t the slightest idea.
Obama couldn’t pay for one one-hundredth of the lifestyle that he’s living on his own, never. He couldn’t do it. But he’s living it. And a lot of people in Washington, there is no real estate problem. There is no restaurant closing problem. There are no shops closing. There are no vacancies in the malls. Everything’s open and booming and buzzing. Meanwhile, what’s everybody in Washington thinking they gotta do? Reach out to Hispanics. Reach out to minorities. That’s where the problem is. So it’s one of a situation of relatability.
Rush is right – as usual. If you look at it through his lens, it starts to clarify just why we are where we are.
The dysfunction is because they just don’t get it.
This is why the design of our Republic was built for the part-time legislator, full time citizen because to effectively govern, the elected official must understand the impact of the laws they pass and regulations they enact. They need to feel the pain. The less the ruling elite hold those experiences, the greater likelihood we get exactly what we have today…and since Washington D.C. is now the richest city in America, nothing will change until we bust up that party.
All this stupidity concentrated in one place causes these:
California property crime rate is up after Gov. Brown released low-level prisoners due to overcrowding. Go figure.
Obama nominee for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is taking fire from both the right and the left. Democrats are asking why Obama would pick this fight right now.
Also, and this is just breaking, Obama will reportedly nominate counterterrorism aide John Brennan as CIA director.
Hurricane Katrina was “nothing” compared to superstorm Sandy, says Harry Reid.
The House and Senate are quietly working on appropriations bills to avoid either another continuing resolution (we’re currently on a 6 month extension) or a government shutdown when the CR runs out on March 27. I suppose that’s been the stealth “cliff.” We’ve got sequestration in two months and the debt ceiling sometime between now and then. And then the actual budget fight.
NY Post investigation finds, just as you always thought, that EBT cards are being used to get cash at strip clubs, adult video stores, liquor stores, and bars. The NY Post starts: “They’re on the dole — and watching the pole.”