Obama's budgetary tricks
I had previously taken note that President Obama has reformed certain aspects of budgetary accounting (see Feb. 27, next to last paragraph), such as including the full estimated cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In other respects, however, he is taking a big step backward toward greater obfuscation and less transparency. As explained by WaPo columnist Charles Krauthammer (also at Real Clear Politics; hat tip to Stacey Morris), Obama claims as "savings" money that would never have been spent in the first place, such as by making the "baseline" assumption that the "surge" in Iraq would have continued for ten more years. What??? But the worst part is how he uses the crisis to push an agenda that he had already formulated before the crisis erupted, and then goes ahead and pretends that those measures will solve the crisis:
And yet with our financial house on fire, Obama makes clear both in his speech and his budget that the essence of his presidency will be the transformation of health care, education and energy. Four months after winning the election, six weeks after his swearing-in, Obama has yet to unveil a plan to deal with the banking crisis.
Clever politics, but intellectually dishonest to the core.
In Obama's defense, most of the 8,570 "pork barrel" earmarks Krauthammer mentions were already in the budgetary "pipeline" before Inauguration Day, and there's only so much he could have done about that. Still, it's sad to see Obama cave in to the Democratic Congressional leadership so early in his term. For someone who is so "audacious" in his agenda, he seems very timid when push comes to shove.
Is Obama thin-skinned?
From whitehouse.gov, Feb. 17:
After meeting with the Chairmen of the House and Senate Budget Committees, the President gave a reminder of the new priorities in his budget, and responded to knee-jerk critics. [Italics added.]
That's not the kind of neutral-toned language I'm used to seeing on the presidential Web site. I hope this doesn't portend a more belligerent attitude in the future.
On the other hand...
I hate to say it, but Tom Tomorrow's comic strip mocking the outrage at Obama's program expressed by certain congressional Republicans has a lot of validity to it. Too bad so few of them stood up against President Bush's fiscal profligacy.
A few good Democrats
It often seems that the Democrats are united behind President Obama's highly dubious agenda of "change," but every once in a while a few of the relative moderates stand up and say "enough's enough!" In this case, eight Democratic senators resisted the attempt to railroad through a bill aimed at "cap and trade" bill to fight greenhouse gas emissions, even though the scientific basis for it is still shaky:
- Robert Byrd, W.Va.
- Blanche Lincoln, Ark.
- Mary Landrieu, La.
- Carl Levin, Mich.
- Evan Bayh, Ind.
- Ben Nelson, Neb.
- Bob Casey Jr., Pa.
- Mark Pryor, Ark.
And a good Republican
Waldo takes note (in his typical ironic sense, of course) that a Republican in Northern Virginia has won an election by appealing to sensible moderate voters. Heresy!