Spending vs. Spending Cuts

Today, President Obama met with his Cabinet and asked them to cut their budgets by $100 million in the next 90 days. AP seems to be slamming the measure, saying that it “hardly makes a dime’s worth of difference” in light of his stimulus and budget spending.

On the radio, I heard President Obama say, “$100 million there and $100 million here, and eventually it adds up to real money.”* I’m fairly certain he was being cheeky, but I thought that comment was a little tacky given that a vast majority of Americans, myself included, considers $1000 to be “real money”—let alone $100 million. (Heck, I’d be thrilled just to have enough money to pay for law school without going into horrendous debt!) I must be feeling nice today, because I can’t say I believe that Obama actually believes that $100 million isn’t “real money,” but on their face, his comments certainly send that message, and I wouldn’t be surprised if people pick up that quote and interpret it that way.

Anyway, Heritage.org has come up with this nice visual depiction of the spending and the proposed/ordered cuts. (Maybe this is why I’m feeling nice today—because this image communicates more information than I really ever could. It’s like spending is the Sun, and the proposed cuts are Pluto!)

Obama is right that cutting spending will help; however, it doesn’t have much of an impact when you’re cutting so little compared to what you’re spending. Just because you have checks doesn’t mean you still have money in the bank, and when you hemorrhage money like the government does, not eating at McDonalds twice a week doesn’t help your bottom line as much as you’d like to believe it does. I’ve seen a lot of magazine and paper articles about frugality recently—I just wish the government would read and pay attention to them.

*EDIT: I am well aware that this is a saying, a cliche, etc. So what? Does that make automatically acceptable to say that? Is that something any President should say during an economic downturn, when millions of people are unemployed? And, more specifically, is it something a President who believes the stock market is like a political tracking poll, who has no idea what “P/E ratio” means, and has an empty Treasury department should say? Do those facts/circumstances, combined with that comment, inspire confidence and economic acumen? If you say yes, I have to ask: Really?

EDIT again: Paul Krugman takes a shot at the “$100 million” quote. And Press Secretary Gibbs jumped on the AP reporter when she brought it up, saying that “only in Washington is $100 million not a lot of money.” Told you so.

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