Obama Puts a Happy Face on a Federal Mess

Aside from that, Mr. President, how did you like the play?

“What we know,” said President Obama to a business group a few days ago, “is that our — our fiscal problems are not short-term deficits. Our discretionary budget, that portion of the federal budget that isn’t defense or Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid, the entitlement programs, is at its smallest level in my lifetime, probably since Dwight Eisenhower. We are not lavishly spending on a whole bunch of social programs out there.”

You could call this Obama’s version of the old joke: “Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?” Saying “we are not lavishly spending on a whole bunch of social programs” — aside from Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid — is like saying the Titanic had a great voyage, aside from the iceberg. We spend so much on those three social programs that, if current trends continue, outlays on them plus interest on the national debt will consume every last federal dollar in a little more than a decade.

But then it isn’t really just those three programs, is it? From 2000 to 2012, federal spending on food stamps increased 400 percent. Not double. Not triple. Four hundred percent. So aside from the big three plus food stamps, we’re not lavishly spending on a whole bunch of social programs.

Federal housing assistance has grown from less than $30 billion (in constant dollars) in 2000 to nearly $60 billion today. Aside from that, though, we’re not lavishly spending on a whole bunch of social programs.

The federal government has 79 different means-tested anti-poverty programs providing food assistance, educational aid, housing, cash transfers, utility assistance and other social services. Aside from that, though, we are not lavishly etc. etc.

There are 47 different federal job-training programs. But aside from that. . . .

Obama also mentioned defense spending. Adjusted for inflation, defense spending rose 64 percent from 2002 to 2011. But — well, you know.

The president says discretionary spending is at the smallest level “in my lifetime, probably since Dwight Eisenhower.” (Obama was born only a year and a half after the Eisenhower administration ended.) Discretionary spending might have fallen as a share of the budget, but that is only because so-called mandatory spending — i.e., spending driven by formulas Congress can change if it chooses — has grown so rapidly. It certainly isn’t smaller in real terms.

Using constant 2005 dollars, defense discretionary spending in 1962 was $52.5 billion. Last year it was $670.5 billion.

In 1962, non-defense discretionary spending was $19.5 billion. Last year, it was $615.5 billion.

Aside from that, though, the president was absolutely right.

Obama’s aside-from-that approach extends well beyond fiscal analysis. When insurance companies began canceling policies that did not meet new requirements under the Affordable Care Act, critics pointed out that the president had said people could keep their insurance if they liked it — not just once, but dozens of times.

Fed up with being quoted accurately, Obama tried to weasel out of his repeated promise by saying: “What we said was, you can keep [your plan] if it hasn’t changed since the law was passed.” (PolitiFact gave him a pants-on-fire rating for that howler.) Translation: Aside from that, you can keep your plan.

Back in the spring, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, was asked during congressional testimony if the NSA collects “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” Replied Clapper: “No sir.”

We now know the NSA collects metadata about millions of Americans’ telephone calls. Also, millions of contact lists from personal email accounts. Also, millions of buddy lists from instant-messaging services. Lots of audio and video chats, photographs and documents, too. It even had a test project to collect data on American citizens’ cell-phone locations.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Each successive president is going to have a bigger turd to shine.

  • cavalier973||

    There's an interesting mental image. I think there should be a law that whenever the President (whoever he or she is) gives a speech or a press conference, etc., he must hold a giant turd in one hand and a cloth in the other, and vigorously polish the turd while he speaks.

  • Rich||

    If that law were passed, I'd even allow O a turd term.

  • Almanian!||

    So a "turd turd", given the first two were/are turds as well

  • Rich||

    It's turds all the way down!

  • CherylMcDaniel31||

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  • cavalier973||

  • fish||

    Thank you for that...my idiot kid always plays the original when we're in the car.....now I can shoot back!

  • Hugh Akston||

    That was fucking terrifying. But I do like those guys doo-wop version of Miley's We Can't Stop.

  • cavalier973||

    What was frightening about it? I thought it quite clever and amusing.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Do people pay any attention to what he says? It seemed like the answer was no well before the last election.

  • UCrawford||

    The people who believe him are either too stupid to understand or too locked into the whole R vs. D game to care what he's actually saying.

    I'm sure the "business group" he was speaking to has a membership that includes very few actual businessmen.

  • cavalier973||

    They all run companies that make green energy. They eat a lot of beans and then fart into fans, which turns the turbines to make electricity!

  • Loki||

    They eat a lot of beans and then fart into fans, which turns the turbines to make electricity!

    That doesn't sound very green to me. All that methane produced is a greenhouse gas too.

  • cavalier973||

    Chalk up another failure to Obama's green energy initiative!

  • Hugh Akston||

    I think Obama's strategy is to turn the bully pulpit into a white-noise generator. Lull people to sleep with unyielding, repetitive speechifying, and when they fail to object to whatever shit is coming out of your mouth, you call it a mandate.

  • Drake||

    Already happened.

  • AdamJ||

    It seems they pay attention to the words but not the actions. Of course Dear Leader would never lie to us...

  • Sevo||

    So, this "business group", are they involved in business or just rent-seeking?
    I'm just curious as to whether the laughter was audible or not.

  • AlgerHiss||

    What a sissified little douchebag this guy is …an empty suit….silly-assed high school pot head.

  • fish||

    Yes he is Alger...but other than those qualities he's fabulous....no?

  • ||

    Il Douche is the proper term, I believe.

  • Almanian!||

    A. Barton Hinkleheimerschmidt
    His name is my name, too!
    Whenever we go out
    people always shout,
    "There goes A. Barton Hinkleheimerschmidt!"
    LALALALALALALA....

    That's for RC Dean. It's been awhile. You're welcome.

  • cavalier973||

    It's DADADADADADADA

    *glares*

  • Almanian!||

    nuh uh

  • R C Dean||

    Why me?

  • ||

    Who used to do that? I'm thinking it was NutraSweet.

  • cavalier973||

    According to Newsweek’s Evan Thomas, the president is “standing above the country. Above — above the world. He’s sort of God.”

    When did he say that?

  • Almanian!||

    I think it was a year or two into his first term - too lazy to Google

    *returns to eating bon bons while lying on a bed of orphans*

  • Hugh Akston||

  • fish||

    Evan Thomas is shreek like in his fellatial piety!

  • Swiss Servator, referendiffic!||

    "fellatial piety"

    That seems a goodly term, band name and such. Bravo.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Emperor O-Bummer ***IS*** Guv-Mint Almighty, who are we mortals to doubt?

  • Rich||

    "We are not lavishly spending on a whole bunch of social programs out there.”

    Of course, that *particular* "whole bunch of social programs" comprises private-sector and foreign programs.

    Continuing to study Obamaese ....

  • Mainer2||

    define "lavishly". He means that every penny is needed and spent wisely.

    Obamaese, indeed.

  • Almanian!||

    "Let me be clear. We eschew obfuscation."

  • SQRLSY One||

    You mean, in full, “We eschew the obfuscation engendered via the excessive utilization of superfluous articulations from pedantic morally superior organisms, amongst which we obviously exclude ourselves.”

  • John||

    Has he said one truthful thing as President? The list of the times he told the truth about anything that mattered is pretty short if it exists at all.

  • R C Dean||

    I actually do think that at least one of the times that he admitted total ignorance of what was going on, he was telling the truth.

    So, there's that.

  • John||

    I am willing to believe that he had no idea that the healthcare website was going to be such a disaster. I am also willing to believe his staff thinks so little of him they never told him or involved in him anything that happened at Bengazi.

    So there is two.

  • Rich||

    I am also willing to believe his staff thinks so little of him they never told him

    Aside from that, they love and respect him.

  • fish||

    Aside from that, they love and respect him.

    Exactly....much like the citizens of Airstrip One venerated Big Brother.....he doesn't exist either

  • Rasilio||

    "He's pretty good at killing people"

    While it is probably not true in the way he meant it it is undeniably true

  • Raston Bot||

    Anyone know if Venezuela is winning the economic war it's waging against itself? I, for one, certainly hope that Venezuela proves victorious and defeats Venezuela!

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    As long as Venezuela puts up a good fight I will respect Venezuela, win or lose, for doing what they had to in the face of Venezuelan aggression.

  • Sevo||

    And we can start a toilet-tissue charity collection for them!

  • WTF||

    Sean Penn has agreed to chair it.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    But who gets the double ply and who gets the single ply?

  • WTF||

    No one needs more than a single ply!

  • ||

    Can't the capitalist pigs spare a square?

  • Doctor Whom||

    My prog Facebook friends used to hold up Venezuela as a shining example. Now it's joined countries like North Korea and Zimbabwe on the list of countries whose existence it is a sin to acknowledge.

  • robc||

    Too bad joe isnt still around.

  • SugarFree||

    He'd just insist it's all OK because elections.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    Elections: None of us working alone is as dumb as most of us woring together.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    "working" - The squirrelz are now whoring themselves.

  • ||

    Or Sean Penn.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    I'm still here man!

  • robc||

    There is only one "joe".

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    That guy probably never smiled, amirite??

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    inflation running at an annual 54 percent and shortages of basic products

    Progress!

  • SugarFree||

    Inflation is just a right wingnut talk radio Fatbaugh myth.

  • WTF||

    That would have been perfect shreek if you had also added some irrelevant links.

  • Doctor Whom||

    In a more condescending tone, it could have been Tony.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Come to Venezuela! We're better than Zimbabwe!

  • fish||

    That'll look good on the travel commercials

  • JWatts||

    Racist!

  • Doctor Whom||

    According to Newsweek’s Evan Thomas, the president is “standing above the country. Above — above the world. He’s sort of God.”

    Set against such puffery we have the rather damning record of the past five years.

    When have mere facts ever had a chance against the faith of the true believers?

  • Andrew S.||

    Feels Reals

  • Andrew S.||

    There was supposed to be a greater than sign in there. What did you do with my greater than sign, squirrels?

  • Andrew S.||

    There was supposed to be a greater than sign in there. What did you do with my greater than sign, squirrels?

  • Andrew S.||

    And why did you double post that, squirrels? In retaliation for questioning you?

  • Killaz||

    Et in Arcadia ego

    The sad shepherds better bring a coat.

  • Killaz||

    This isn't the Iceland cop homocide thread. How did I get here? Not even interested in the above article. Sheesh.

  • Killaz||

    homicide

  • Car Scanner||

    He means that every penny is needed and spent wisely.

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