The Corner

Shaving the Iceberg

President Obama will reportedly ask his Cabinet to come up with a combined $100 million in savings over the next 90 days. If the impetus for this announcement is the series of taxpayer tea parties that took place across the country last week, I am going to venture a guess this political stunt will backfire. At least it should. 

Given the president’s proposed $3.6 trillion budget for the coming fiscal year, $100 million dollars is the amount of money the federal government will spend in just 15 minutes. 15 minutes is probably how much time the average American spent eating breakfast this morning. According to the Post, an unnamed administration official says the cuts “are intended to signal the president’s determination to cut spending and reform government.”

With all due respect, Mr. President, proposing a $1.2 trillion deficit and then promising to shave $100 million off the iceberg shows a determination to overspend and insult our intelligence. Moreover, even if we pretend the proposed savings are meaningful, it’s not like the budget will be any smaller or taxes will be reduced accordingly. Politicians of both parties love to say they’re going to cut out “waste, fraud, and abuse,” but my personal experiences inside and outside of government have been that any alleged savings just get plowed into other programs. 

Lest any readers think my criticism of the president’s proposal is partisan, the Bush administration’s budgetary behavior was just as insulting to taxpayers. I recall the Bush administration issuing an annual list of proposed cuts that it never fought for and didn’t add up to much money anyhow. Thus, it appears that when it comes to “saving” taxpayer money, President Obama’s idea represents business as usual in Washington, not change to be believed in.   

Tad DeHaven is a budget analyst at the Cato Institute.

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