Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Armchair Obama™: You Fix The Deficit.

[Editor's Note: Since everyone (yours truly included) thinks they know how to do the job of the President far better than the President himself, I figured why not turn this into a new recurring feature. Introducing Armchair Obama™, a pretty self-explanatory concept if there ever was one.]

The deficit is a problem. I don't think many people would disagree with this, although there are plenty of differing explanations as to how we went from a record surplus a decade ago to swimming in red ink now. Since it's pretty much universally agreed upon that we've got a problem, the natural inclination is to suggest a solution. The President and the GOP (not surprisingly) have some very contrasting views on how to get America back in the black, and thus prevent our children's children's children from being China's b*tch in everything not called Olympic basketball.[1]

The President, in his typical pragmatic fashion prefers to wield a scalpel and dissect our annual obligations one by one. His preliminary plan is to slash 200+ gubb'ment programs that don't work. Call me nuts, but if the programs aren't working, why the hell didn't this occur to someone well before now? Additionally, the President will raise taxes on the rich next year, although history might show that he wasn't exactly successful in a similar endeavor, oh, say, about 8 weeks ago. In somewhat of a contradiction, Obama also plans to offset these new taxes and program cuts with strategic investments (read: spending) in areas like high speed rail and high speed internet. No, that's not a skipping record. Yes, we heard those very same promises a few years back as part of the justification for the $800B Stimulus Package. Both are shortsighted notions that will ultimately be epic fails. Seriously, America ain't Europe. As much as we complain about TSA and airlines, nobody is gonna revert to taking some newfangled Amtrak just to "see the countryside". Ditto for the internet nonsense. WiFi's been around for nearly a decade now. If some private company didn't see a profit in extending FiOS to yokels in rural Idaho, why the heck does Obama think the gubb'ments going to have a better value prop for such a service. If you read between the talking point lines of "cutting waste" and "strategic investments", it's pretty clear Obama's punting on 3rd down here. Deficit Schmeficit. This is America, and damnit, we know debt. Just max out another ChinaCard™. Worked for Bush, works for us.

On the other end of the idiot, excuse me, ideological spectrum is the Republican Party. In an irrational effort to prove their mettle to the approximately 7-8% of Real Americans of Tea Party Persuasion, the GOP is saying damn the scalpel, lets pull out a chainsaw. I guess I should give Boehner and Co. some credit for living up to their starry eyed campaign promise to cut $100B in spending this year. But that's about the extent of the props they'll get here. Seriously, have you taken a look at what these ingrates are proposing? Cuts to school funding. Cuts to police officers. Cuts to food safety. Cuts to NIH research. Cuts to services for children and mothers. Cuts to the military. Populists, but ultimately fruitless cuts to PBS, NPR, and the NEA. Cuts to public transit and public works projects. Eliminating AmeriCorps and Teaching For America. Cuts in healthcare. More tax cuts for oil companies. Curiously absent: pay cuts for themselves. Also absent, despite months of selling wolf tickets: entitlement reform. These guys can talk all the trash they want, but they're too chicksh*t to touch a TeaBagger's Social Security benefits. It's a lot easier to just slash some welfare Mom's WIC check. Nobody gives a sh*t about welfare Moms or their welfare kids anyway.

If given the choice between the lesser of these two evils, I'd prolly ride with Obama. Making rash decisions without thinking about the longterm implications seems to be the basic gist of the GOP plan. Seriously, I understand repaying those who put you in office, but the sheer magnitude and thoughtlessness with which their cuts are implemented tells me we'd be simply trading one problem for about 50 others. Obama's plan makes some modest cuts, but offsets them with some plain ole' stupid spending that won't do anything to boost the economy. His plans to raise corporate taxes and (supposedly) hit the rich up come 2012 seems reasonable, but there's far too much uncertainty about the ripple effects of those two concepts. Basically, this is like #fail vs $FAIL. Take your pick, either way it's a loss.

What do ya'll think? Armchair Obamas™, you are on the clock.

Question: How would you get the deficit under control? What would you cut, and what would absolutely be off the table? Whose plan do you prefer?

[1] As long as there's a brother with a ball and an unsavory agent willing to pay him under the table, we'll never, ever, ever lose to Team China. Beleedat.

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