We just went through the spectacle of the congress arguing, cajoling, horse trading and whining 24/7 over what amounts to a rounding error - $39 billion in cuts for what remains of the 2011 fiscal year. Without the compromise, there would have been a government "shutdown". It seemed like the so-called shutdown amounted to Armageddon with the world coming to an end. The White House Easter egg hunt would be cancelled! The Smithsonian would close! Who would feed the pandas at the National Zoo? How would we explain all of this to the children? In reality, all vital government services would have continued and only some inconvenience would have occurred for a few citizens. But never mind. We were then told that this rounding error was "the largest cut in the government budget in history." What a sad commentary. Then this may actually be the only cut in government spending. Most of the government "cuts" in the past are actually cuts in the growth rate in programs. Of course the opponents to these "cuts" act as if the budget has suffered an absolute decrease when in reality more money will be spent than in the previous year.
A lot of people have pointed out that this is really a joke – simply pitiful. Many that I know on my left act as the cuts will either kill the children or the elderly or whomever while those on the right are angry that the cuts were not the $61 billion promised. Both sides need to get a life. The $61 billion is still a rounding error in a budget of $3.69 trillion. Nevertheless, I for one think it all was significant and important. The big battles are coming: the 2012 Ryan budget and raising the debt ceiling. The theatre that we just were treated to was analogous to spring football and appropriately like spring training in baseball. It was to get the participants in shape for the real game. It was practice. It was something that none of the congress had ever seriously gone through and was vital training for the real game. It was a worthwhile endeavor.
It also pointed out one thing that is obvious about the president.
It is evident that this president likes the trappings of the office but not the job. He golfs all the time through crises. He takes vacations during crises. He goes off on foreign trips to exotic locales during crises. He has private parties and concerts with the stars and glitterati. However, he does not lead. AS some have said, he is President Present. He comes to the party late and adopts the democratic position as if it is his own, giving speech upon endless speech. If a republican did this, he would be vilified by the media and ridiculed without pity. I am old enough to remember the press remarking about Dwight Eisenhower’s love for golf “Sam Snead for president! If we are going to have a golfer, we might as well have a good one”. With Barack Obama the best analogy is not to ask for Tiger Woods to be president since this president is a closer. The American people thought they were electing a president. Instead, they got Mariano Rivera.
Happy Birthday Frederic Bastiat
10 months ago