Fact-checkers are having a field day pulling apart Obama’s phony job creation boasts from the State of the Union speech – he cherry-picks numbers, generally ignoring the first half of his term, and ignores the demands of population growth, which is how he makes delusional claims of a zillion jobs created while sane Americans see a grinding unemployment and a collapsed workforce outside their windows. The purpose of this rhetoric is not a vain effort to trick people who can do math; it’s a talking point for the voluntarily deluded to cuddle like a teddy bear.
Equally risible was Obama’s knee-slapper about how the long wish list of spending proposals he unrolled would somehow leave the deficit untouched. “Nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime,” he declared, before rattling off trillions in new spending proposals: more Solyndras, funds for this, “investments” in that, on and on.
Everyone knows he’s not going to propose cuts in other programs to offset this new spending. He won’t be able to squeeze enough tax money out of America to cover it, and if he did, his fragile economy would collapse. But there’s no reason to take his claims of deficit neutrality seriously, because as the GOP notes on its website, he’s used this exact same line about “dimes” numerous times before, to make laughable promises that were utterly discarded over time.
He was going to “find every single dime of waste and misspent money” in the federal budget in 2011. We just learned that the so-called “Obamaphone” program alone produced hundreds of millions of dollars in fraud during the following year. And that’s a drop in the bucket compared to broader welfare-state abuse. Every day we hear a new story about food stamp cards being abused to pay for booze, cigarettes, gambling, pornography, and other luxuries. In theory, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to crack down on this abuse; the “free phone” circus is being shut down, in essence, by taking the program off the honor system. EBT cards shouldn’t be capable of producing cash at ATM machines. Abusers should be aggressively hunted down, prosecuted, and stripped of their benefits, until everyone with an EBT card is absolutely terrified to use it for anything except the purchase of essential groceries, and a great many people with those cards never should have gotten them in the first place. But none of this happened, a year after Obama vowed to shake “every single dime of waste and misspent money” out of the system, and he didn’t find a lot of dimes in the rest of this bloated and inefficient government, either.
And ObamaCare wasn’t going to add “one more dime to our deficits,” according to the President. Stop laughing, he really said that. Actual ObamaCare cost added to the deficit: over $1 trillion and climbing.
A core theme of Obama’s State of the Union address was the socialist catechism that government money is The People’s Money. Every dime cut from the federal budget is a dime stolen from The People, who cannot survive without the largess of the State. “Most Americans – Democrats, Republicans and independents – understand that we can’t just cut our way to prosperity,” Obama claimed, knocking over one of his favorite straw men – since plenty of people believe government restraint is key to robust economic growth (and frankly, only deranged lunatics like Paul Krugman think the size of government isn’t holding this economy back.) But those people don’t think spending cuts are the only thing necessary to restore the prosperity so sorely lacking in the Obama years.
“They know that broad-based economic growth requires a balanced approach to deficit reduction, with spending cuts and revenue, and with everybody doing their fair share. And that’s the approach I offer tonight,” the President continued. But he didn’t offer that on Tuesday night. He didn’t outline any real spending cuts at all. He briefly mentioned some Medicare reforms, but one of the big ones involves soaking wealthy Medicare recipients (“we’ll ask more from the wealthiest seniors”) and after a laughable fairy tale about ObamaCare “helping to slow the growth of health care costs,” he launched right into his plans for squeezing more tax money out of America. Time and again, he talked about how spending cuts would rob the “middle class” of sustenance and opportunity.
There’s no room in any of that rhetoric for a dime of spending cuts, let alone the vast sums that would be needed to offset his new spending. Since Obama’s State of the Union was essentially a vow to keep doing everything he did in his first term, it’s not unreasonable to expect at least another five or six trillion in spending during his second. He’s not going to get $6 trillion in new taxes, and the American people don’t have that much blood to give. There’s no way to read his SOTU address and find trillions in real spending cuts lurking between the big new spending demands. So the deficit will indeed grow by many, many dimes, and this latest promise – just like every other “dime” line Obama has ever delivered – will be quickly forgotten. In fact, we’ll hear in a few years how more taxes and debt are needed to keep the “commitments” our government has already made, and resistance to Obama’s demands is just like a deadbeat diner skipping out on paying his check at a restaurant. Remember that little harangue from Barack Obama? That was about two months ago. He’s borrowed over 30 billion dimes since then.
Update: The GOP put together a little video to go along with their observation about how often Obama falls back on the “dime” metaphor. Watching him say it over and over again is even more jarring than reading about it: