Budget

Oh, the Poetry of Meaningless Budget Cuts

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Lew know it's true.

Jacob Lew, the top budget official at the White House, thinks budgets are beautiful. In 1999, while serving as a budget geek in the Clinton administration, he observed—in what you have to believe was a solemn whisper—that "budgets aren't books of numbers. They're a tapestry, the fabric, of what we believe." The trillions of taxpayer dollars the federal government spends each year add up to something truly meaningful: "The numbers tell a story, a self-portrait of what we are as a country." 

Today, Lew has an op-ed in The New York Times that echoes those old sentiments. "The budget," he writes," is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations." The budget is a story, a song, a hymn to our nation and its people. Look inward. Can't you see it, feel it, right there, in the dark of your heart, the depths of your soul? It's like staring into the abyss.

There's nothing poetic about the reasons why the budget situation is so bleak. We are out of money, the budgepocalypse is nigh, and the Obama administration's last excuse for not doing anything about it—the president's fiscal commission—turned out to be exactly the sort of wholly predictable avoid-the-problem gimmickry the president promised it wouldn't be.

Nevertheless, it's now time to actually make a budget. And Lew, in his official capacity as White House Budget Poet Office of Management and Budget Director, wants you all to know that although budget cutting may be hard, the Obama administration is prepared to do it: "Make no mistake," he writes, "this will not be easy. It will require tough choices since every decision to invest in one program will necessitate a cut somewhere else."

To prove it, Lew has three examples of programs that the Obama administration is prepared to trim: a community service-block grant fund, which the White House is prepared to cut by half, or $350 million; the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which the Obama administration proposes to cut by 25 percent, or $125 million; and a community development program that the administration says can be cut by 7.5 percent, or $300 million. These aren't all the cuts Obama is willing to make, Lew writes, but as a sampling "they reflect the tough calls he had to make."

See how agonizing this is? Why, that's nearly $775 million. Out of a trillion dollar-plus deficit this year alone, and a total of $12 trillion in deficit spending that can be reasonably expected between now and 2021. Maybe Lew is right: The budgets do tell us a story about ourselves. But if so, the story they tell is of a federal government so addicted to spending that it has to published a New York Times op-ed congratulating itself for making the hard, hard choices necessary to cut less than a billion dollars from the budget at a time when the country is tumbling toward a damaged credit rating and a debt crisis. It really is some kind of beautiful.

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  1. Its kinda crazy when you think about it huh?

    http://www.net-privacy.at.tc

    1. Wise words.

      1. Anonbot seems to be on a roll lately.

  2. What the fuck is wrong with these assholes?

    Are they in denial? Do they just not give a fuck?

    1. They know they will never pay the price for this. So yes, they just do not give a fuck. Buying votes and not doing anything politically difficult is all that is important to them, to maintain their power for a bit longer.

      1. I think we’re getting to the point of public financial rat-fuckery that some legislators and officials currently in power will actually have to pay the price… especially the way guys like this are recycled from Administration to Administration.

        1. They don’t seem to be very afraid of repercussions, and that’s a pretty good indicator that that’s because there won’t be any.

          1. Wisest words I have seen typed today; therein lies the crux of the problem: pols that do not fear the electorate will inevitably consume them.

        2. Unfortunately, the electorate is a baby that gets to squeal and cry and shake its rattle every two years. When TSHTF everyone is getting thrown out, whether they had anything to do with the collapse or not. So the pols may as well profit from the system while they can. If it gets them thrown out of office, they get to retire to a nice comfy pension.

          1. Then it’s a loaded game; I hereby suggest Joshua’s Law be enacted now: “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

            Notice also, in the brouhaha over public sector union pensions, that the pols are mysteriously exempt. Also a loaded game when a public sector worker can literally write his or her own paycheck.

    2. “Do they just not give a fuck?”

      At my least cynical, I say yes.

      At my most cynical, I say that they might believe the collapse of the dollar will create all kinds of “emergencies,” which leads to “emergency legislation” (ie, power grabs). However, at that point, Americans just won’t believe him when he/they try to blame anyone/everyone except themselves.

      Hope I’m wrong and it never gets that ugly.

      1. LOL, I love these wacky conspiracy theories.

    3. Heller, until you admit that tax increases are a major part of any solution to this problem, it is you who is in denial.

      Our spending is average for a rich nation. Our tax rates are among the lowest. Da facts are da facts, jack.

      1. Chad, our deficit can be eliminated solely through relatively pain-free spending cuts, so why exactly do I have to agree with you that tax increases are essential? Not only are tax increases directly harmful to tax-payers (while most of the cuts I support don’t affect tax-payers at all), but there is no guarantee that tax increases will raise revenue. The evidence supports economic theory here. Tax increases have been consistently negated by decreases in real wealth in this country for 70+ years.

        All of this is irrelevant to the real issue, though. You claim tax increases are a major part of the solution. Why?

      2. Our spending is average for a rich nation. Our tax rates are among the lowest. Da facts are da facts, jack.

        Well first of all, I’d like to see your data on this, because if I remember correctly, the only rich countries that spend less than the US are Switzerland and Japan.

        Also, you’re missing a crucial part of the argument here. Are the countries with higher tax rates any better off financially? If you think Europe is in a better situation than the US, you must be out of your mind.

      3. Our spending is average for a rich nation

        Setting aside the specious claim it is good to see that you, Obama and every other welfare statist has his sights on the United States being an average nation. Keep slouching Chad!

  3. You need to express that in the infinitesimal percentage of the yearly budget and total debt that it is to really bring home just how utterly meaningless it is. It’s as if I demanded my credit card company extend to me hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional credit this year, on top of millions in existing loans, while reassuring them I’d improve my creditworthiness and significantly curtail my expenses… by purchasing one less pack of chewing gum this year.

  4. If the budgets tell a story, then our story is “I’m too fat to fit in my fucking chair.”

    1. My fucking-chair seats three, just in case.

  5. Hey Lew
    Try Do
    Yeh You
    Not Who
    Aw Foo
    ey.

  6. Here it is in film:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..re=related

    1. “Ah, good afternoon, sir; and how are we today?”

      “Better…”

      “Better?”

      “Better get a bucket, I’m gonna throw up.”

      Better get a bucket.

      1. “And the usual brown ales?”

      2. “It’s only wafer thin.”

  7. Director Lew was only mentioning a sampling of the cuts the White House has in store, you nihilist kneebiter. Of course the cuts are going to be more than $750 million by orders of magitude.

    If this is the beast the haters can come up with, Obama is doing a splendid job.

    1. Of course the cuts are going to be more than $750 million by orders of magitude.

      I’m noting this for the record.

      1. According to usgovernmentspending.com, the current projections for 2012 budget are 3,755 Billion. In order to be “orders of magnitude” more than 750 Million, this would have to be cut by at least 75 Billion–leaving the deficit at a paltry 750 Billion–so Hobie is putting a stake in the ground that the Feds will spend less than 3,680 Billion in 2012.

        I am gonna take the over on that one.

        1. There’s also the “shell game” switcheroo, in which so-called “cuts” from one program are shifted to other programs and spent. So when these guys claim, “Look! we cut $750 billion from these programs!” they never mention that they spent $1 trillion on other ones.

    2. the point is that if they cut those programs all together, instead of trimming them, you’d start to get somewhere.

      you want to cut the budget? Don’t cutout half of some program that plants trees in some neighborhood, eliminate the DOE. Then you’d get somewhere.

    3. If this is the beast the haters can come up with, Obama is doing a splendid job.

      Freud much?

      1. …strikes again!

    4. Of course the cuts are going to be more than $750 million by orders of magitude.

      And that’s why they went with less than 1% of their cuts?

      If this is the beast the haters can come up with, Obama is doing a splendid job.

      Pointing out that even multiplying their cuts by 2 orders of magnitudes yields less than 0.02% of the budget proves that Obama is doing a good job?

    5. “the haters” =ing “anyone who doesn’t bend over every time Obama appears on television”, of course.

  8. Poetry, eh? Our betters are wanting poetry, are they? Mao did poetry, so I hear. All poetry flows out of a barrel of something or other. Or as a real poet, Carl Sandburg, wrote, on government:

    The Government–I heard about the Government and
    I went out to find it. I said I would look closely at
    it when I saw it.
    Then I saw a policeman dragging a drunken man to
    the callaboose. It was the Government in action.
    I saw a ward alderman slip into an office one morning
    and talk with a judge. Later in the day the judge
    dismissed a case against a pickpocket who was a
    live ward worker for the alderman. Again I saw
    this was the Government, doing things.
    I saw militiamen level their rifles at a crowd of
    workingmen who were trying to get other workingmen
    to stay away from a shop where there was a strike
    on. Government in action.

    Everywhere I saw that Government is a thing made of
    men, that Government has blood and bones, it is
    many mouths whispering into many ears, sending
    telegrams, aiming rifles, writing orders, saying
    “yes” and “no.”

    Government dies as the men who form it die and are laid
    away in their graves and the new Government that
    comes after is human, made of heartbeats of blood,
    ambitions, lusts, and money running through it all,
    money paid and money taken, and money covered
    up and spoken of with hushed voices.
    A Government is just as secret and mysterious and sensitive
    as any human sinner carrying a load of germs,
    traditions and corpuscles handed down from
    fathers and mothers away back.

    Yes, so Jacob Lew is a fool, and a cog in a mass of ambitions, lusts, and money running through government, money paid and money taken, money covered up and spoken of with hushed voices …..

    So, wdwgtctri?

    1. I saw militiamen level their rifles at a crowd of
      workingmen who were trying to get other workingmen
      to stay away from a shop where there was a strike
      on. Government in action.

      Ahhh, the good old days! Firing on strikers? And here I thought that the government never did anything good!

  9. You asked for some cuts,
    We gave them this winter day.
    Hey, at least we tried.

  10. Snakes on a plane, Lew.
    On a motherfucking plane.
    Is it over yet?

    1. That’s just beautiful

  11. “The numbers tell a story, a self-portrait of what we are as a country.”

    Yeah, a statist created Hell.

    1. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but the portrait may look something like this.

      1. I knew it would be Dorian Grey even before I clicked it. GMTA.

  12. “The numbers tell a story, a self-portrait of what we are as a country.”

    So the US is Tyrone the Crack Addict from Chappelle’s Show. You fuckin’ happy with that, Lew?

    C’mon – spend less!! Chop chop!!

    1. Also – cuntpickle. That needed to be said…

        1. Oh, did someone get their feathers ruffled trolling late a night? You’re so self-absorbed – it’s sad 🙁

          It would be less sad if you were aware my comment had nothing to do with you…but every comment has something to do with you when you’re completely self absorbed, a perennial teenager…:( Sad, sad, sad…

          Good night, rectal.

  13. and that needed to be said

    1. waaaaaaaaaaaah!

  14. We just need more democracy. That’ll fix everything. Government spending will fall to record lows in no time.

    Democracy is good, democracy is great.

    1. So I should invest in democracy, eh? Shall I go long?

  15. You can babble all you want, but until you grow up and admit that we need significant tax increase in order to solve this problem, you still don’t get a seat at the adults’ table.

    Slowly, I am seeing a few conservatives start to admit this. When it dawns on you, too, please get back to me.

    Btw: my wife and I, as middle-class as middle-class could be, paid FIVE PERCENT of our total income in federal income taxes, using no special gimmicks and doing our taxes using Turbotax in 30 minutes. FIVE PERCENT. Oh, the slavery! Oh, the horrors! crywhinepout

    1. “Btw: my wife and I, as middle-class as middle-class could be, paid FIVE PERCENT of our total income in federal income taxes, using no special gimmicks and doing our taxes using Turbotax in 30 minutes. FIVE PERCENT”

      Why don’t you send more you free loading bastard? You sit around and enjoy this government and then buy trubo tax to make sure you don’t have to pay for it. If people would just send in fifty or sixty percent of their income, like they know they should, we wouldn’t have a budget deficit. You shouldn’t need a law or the IRS to know what is right. People in this country used to have values.

      Sorry Chad, but you don’t get a seat at the adult’s table until you start writing a big ass check to pay what you know as well I as I do is your fair share. And no, waiting until you have to do it because of the IRS is not good enough.

      Write the fucking check. You can afford it. You just holding out because you are a freeloader who won’t pay your fair share.

      Until we have a progressive class that really cares about the country and society and sets the example, we are never going to solve anything. So write the check and set the example or shut up and stop calling yourself a progressive.

      1. Too bad there’s not a tax on crickets.

        Yet.

      2. If you could see me now, I am giving John a standing ovation (ok, I’m really not- it’s a cyber ovation)…

        Really, Chad- stroke the check, jackwagon…

      3. Chad, other progs: here’s the address:

        Gifts to the United States
        U.S. Dept. of the Treasury
        Credit Accounting Branch
        3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
        Hyattsville, MD 20782

    2. Nothing to see here people, I already gave Chad his spanking up-thread.

      I give him a D- for effort, but an A for being so cute about it!

    3. my wife and I, as middle-class as middle-class could be, paid FIVE PERCENT of our total income in federal income taxes

      Well there are plenty of people who evidently make more money than you do, who pay well more than a mere 5%. You seem to be pretty adept at spending other people’s money.

      If you think the answer is more taxes, feel free to send more of your money in, since you also seem to think that at 5%, you’re not paying enough.

      The federal government is so insanely bloated and wasteful, Congress could implement 10% across the board cuts and nobody outside of the Beltway would notice. It would not affect 99.98% of American taxpaying citizens one iota. Quite likely they could cut several programs entirely and other drastically.

      Yeah, sure, our taxes are – comparatively speaking – lower than they’ve been in years; by the same token, our spending is higher than it’s ever been. Simply put, the government is spending more than it’s taking in. Now, if you or I were to do that, would the answer be “well just take in more money”? Or would the answer be, “stop fucking spending money you don’t have, asshole”?

    4. Also, a typical instance of progressive projection. “I only pay 5% of my income; I perceive this as not being a large amount and do not find it objectionable; therefore, everyone is not paying enough taxes and should pay more.”

      I just took a look at my past tax records. My wife and I also use TurboTax and with no special gimmicks, last year we paid 24% of our income in taxes. And that is just federal taxes and does not include all the various local taxes property taxes we pay. So fuck yeah, I think I’m paying enough and no, thank you very much, I would not like to pay more.

    5. I agree with Chad to an extent. Those tax increases, however, need to be in the form of eliminating tax deductions. My girlfriend, for example, pays less in tax than I do even though she makes $20K more than me simply because she owns a condo and deducts her mortage interest while I rent. That’s nuts. If we eliminated tax loopholes we could lower marginal rates and still manage to produce additional revenue.

    6. “You can babble all you want, but until you grow up and admit that we need significant tax increase in order to solve this problem, you still don’t get a seat at the adults’ table.”

      Get back to us if you ever manage to actually grow up.

    7. You can babble all you want, but until you grow up and admit that we need significant tax increase in order to solve this problem, you still don’t get a seat at the adults’ table.

      How much of a deficit would we have if we cut spending to 2005 levels?

      1. Well we wouldn’t have any roads, that’s for sure.

  16. “The budget,” he writes,” is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations.”

    We’re fucked.

    1. We highly value spending other people’s hard earned money.

  17. I wonder where Chad went; maybe he’s at the Post Office, mailing a check to the Treasury.

    We’re all proud of you, Chad!

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