Freeze should leave you cold
After 2009 spending orgy, Obama is taking a disingenuous vow of chastity
Augusta Chronicle Editorial Staff
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

After carving his image into "Mt. Spendmore" as the biggest spender in American history, Barack Obama will try to convince you tonight that he's somehow, all of a sudden, holding the line with a freeze on discretionary spending.

After, interestingly enough, dismissing the idea as a candidate.

Even more interesting, his move seems to say that, after a year of touting federal spending as "stimulative" to the economy, federal spending is now a bad thing and needs to be cut back.

Which is it, Mr. President? What economic principles, if any, are you advocating?

Moreover, what good will a temporary, miniscule freeze in non-security discretionary spending do when such spending has been far outpacing the nation's economic output for years -- up 21 percent from 2008 to now -- and when entitlement spending is on the path toward bankrupting the country?

What does a temporary freeze in some spending mean when this administration and this Congress have teamed up to triple the national deficit in one year?

This is nothing more than a political gimmick, a way of cynically trying to reposition his presidency -- probably in image alone -- to the right of his true radical-left agenda.

And when a big-government guy like this starts talking about "jobs," it rings pretty hollow. He talks tougher about cracking down on capitalists than on terrorists. And his policies suggest he believes government creates wealth and jobs -- when, in truth, government can only "create" jobs through confiscating other people's wealth.

After the reckless and ineffective spending of the past year, a partial spending freeze -- affecting only about 17 percent of the federal budget -- "is like announcing you're going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest," said one Republican aide.

"President Obama had requested a 7.3 percent increase last year in the areas he now seeks to freeze," notes The Wall Street Journal .

Even a token spending freeze is a good thing, of course. But consider the context: The president is announcing the token, temporary freeze, a year into his presidency, in order to simply be relevant: The rest of the country was focused on the economy all the long while that Mr. Obama and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill were putting everything they had into sweeping health-care reforms that polls show most Americans don't want.

A new survey by the respected Pew Research Center for the People and the Press shows just how out of step Barack Obama is with the rest of the country: In a poll of Americans' top public policy priorities, the economy and jobs rank first and second. Health care -- the thing Mr. Obama spent the most political capital on the past year -- ranked eighth.

His other big priority -- global warming -- ranked dead last in importance to Americans.

The national deficit this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will be about $1.35 trillion .

In comparison, Obama's much-vaunted spending freeze might save $15 billion .

Mr. Obama's convenient and belated attention to his overspending is admirable, but far too little, too late. His slight bow to the middle class tonight won't be as deep or meaningful as his repeated bows to foreign leaders.

Talking about such a small spending freeze while also raising the country's debt limit $1.9 trillion to $14.29 trillion is like picking out curtains while the roof is being blown off.

It's just window dressing.

From the Wednesday, January 27, 2010 edition of the Augusta Chronicle


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