The Washington Post reports:
President Obama plans to convene his Cabinet for the first time today, where he will order members to identify a combined $100 million in budget cuts over the next 90 days, according to a senior administration official.
The budget cuts, while they would account to a minuscule portion of federal spending, are intended to signal the president’s determination to cut spending and reform government, the official said.
This is noteworthy not only because it took nearly a hundred days to convene the cabinet but because it suggests the “What tea parties?” feigned ignorance by the Obama spin-machine is flimsy camouflage for growing concerns that the unwashed rabble may be on to something. Really, why now, out of the blue, find some tiny cost cutting measures? The president could, after all, have made the stimulus plan $100M less expensive or the $3.6 trillion budget a smidgen less irresponsible.
As one Capitol Hill staffer pointed out, $100M is about a day’s worth of interest on the stimulus plan. (CBO says the stimulus debt will be 347 billion over 10 years, which averages out to 34 billion a year or about $95 million a day.) Or as MarketWatch put it:
To get a handle on how insultingly trivial the announcement is, one need only compare the targeted cuts to the administration’s spending plan for 2010. With cuts in federal spending by $100 million, the government will save roughly 1/36,000 of the $3.6 trillion it expects to spend next year. Put another way, if the budget were a yardstick, the administration would be proposing to shorten it by 1/1000 of an inch. That’s 25.4 microns, or about half the width of a human hair.
So why do something this trivial? It seems obvious that the White House is concerned that the Republicans’ “taxes too much, spends too much, and borrows too much” characterization of Democrats is becoming too popular. So the administration will throw out some ludicrously small cuts to show the are “serious” about fiscal discipline. It matters not that it runs counter to their entire Keynesian spending plan, which is premised on the notion that spending — all kinds and for whatever purpose — is needed now. Like so much of what the Obama administration does, the latest search for pennies in the couch is only for show. But the mere fact that they feel compelled to put on a show speaks volumes about their assessment of the political landscape.