In one of the great “Freudian slips” of recent memory, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner – a deeply unserious man, representing an entirely frivolous President, confronted by probing inquiry from the very serious Rep. Paul Ryan – uttered the defining sound bite of the Obama Administration:
“We’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution to our long-term problem. What we do know is we don’t like yours.”
The topic was the budget, both in the short term and when dealing with our looming entitlement crisis. These are both topics Paul Ryan has invested both considerable thought and great political capital into addressing. Geithner and his Party responded with videos showing Paul Ryan shoving old people off a cliff, and making it painfully clear that they have absolutely no intention of dealing with runaway federal spending or insolvent entitlement programs. It’s trillion-dollar deficits forever, perhaps with the occasional dip to $600 billion or so in the “out years.”
How irresponsible is Barack Obama? This irresponsible:
That’s a chart that shows the national debt blasting into deep space, on a steep trajectory that begins with Barack Hussein Obama and never, ever ends.
Which gang of right-wing propagandists created that chart? The White House Office of Management and Budget.
Ryan showed the hapless Geithner another chart, reproduced by James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute, comparing his own “Path to Prosperity” budget against the Obama disgrace:
Which led to this astonishing exchange between the two:
GEITHNER: You could have taken [the chart] out [to the year] 3000 or to 4000. [Laughs]
RYAN: Yeah, right. We cut it off at the end of the century because the economy, according to the CBO, shuts down in 2027 on this path.
(Emphasis mine.) Ho. Lee. Crap. And remember, this clown is the Treasury Secretary.
Combined with the misadventures of the White House Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jeffrey Zients (who threw away ObamaCare’s Supreme Court defense because he was ordered to pretend ObamaCare doesn’t raise anyone’s taxes), you have a portrait of an Administration that is not taking the responsibility of budgeting seriously at all. Pethkoukis suggests Obama and Geithner should be “ashamed” of the charts Ryan slapped them with, but “shame” implies the awareness of duty.
Can we be perfectly blunt about this? Liberals do not think deficits are a problem at all. They’re not an unfortunate side effect of enlightened Big Government spending to be controlled, like the hazardous waste coming from a nuclear reactor. Deficits don’t matter, unless there is a political opportunity to use them as a cudgel against a Republican Administration, or an excuse to raise taxes. Otherwise, they’re just abstract numbers on a spreadsheet. Once they’re convinced tax hikes are off the table, liberals lose interest in the deficit with housecat speed.
The Deep Thinkers of the Left – charlatans like Paul Krugman – think there needs to be more deficit spending, and faster. The only problem with Obama’s trillion-dollar stimulus, in their minds, is that it needed to be three or four times larger.
The Left sincerely believes the national debt can accumulate forever without ill effect, and insolvent entitlement programs can chug along indefinitely… not because they’re completely ignorant of actuarial tables showing debt interest completely consuming the federal budget in a few years, or the hundred trillion dollars in entitlement liability crashing down on the wrong side of a demographic tidal wave. It’s because they believe these catastrophic events will merely become a new phase in the “transformation of America.” The aftermath of the Great Crash will be a more powerful State, run by even more brilliant political leaders. When the transformation is complete, old accounts will be discarded, like the husk of an old cocoon.
Meanwhile, the piles of money Obama shovels out, as if tomorrow will never come, purchase dependency and political power… which will be useful when tomorrow does arrive. When the hardcore Left hears Paul Ryan explain that current modeling shows the economy shutting down in 15 years, they think, “Good.” They think he’s projecting the death of capitalism, which to them means the beginning of something much better.
Meanwhile, it’s all politics. The only thing that will trouble Geithner about his schooling at the hands of Paul Ryan, in the weeks to come, is the nagging fear that a significant number of Democrat voters – who have been mindlessly repeating the mantra that Obama’s a brilliant leader who has really tried his best, and done as well as anyone possibly could to salvage the mess George Bush left him – could hear Geithner’s admission that they don’t have a plan at all, and the tiniest wrinkle of doubt might appear on their foreheads.