April 21, 2009

"The thrifty measures Obama ordered for federal agencies are the equivalent of asking a family that spends $60,000 in a year to save $6."

Ouch.

77 comments:

former law student said...

I agree.

In terms of impact to the budget, such costcutting is almost as ridiculous and picayune as worrying about earmarks.

Trevor Jackson said...

Strange story. I saw a similar one in the paper this morning that buries the context of these cuts. These "thrifty measures" are on top of much larger cuts they're looking to make throughout the budget (the "line by line" talk).

Whether they will actually make those bigger cuts will obviously remain to be seen, but even Obama admitted that this $100m should be seen as symbolic and a first step in changing the culture.

Jason (the commenter) said...

former : "such costcutting is almost as ridiculous and picayune as worrying about earmarks"

At a press conference reporters asked why the administration was making a big deal out of 100 million dollars when a few weeks ago it had said 6,000 million dollars in earmarks was minuscule.

Quayle said...

But the cuts are a HUGE symbol of his austerity, and remember - it is all about symbolism.

In other news, Obama just proposed a $100 billion fund to lend to the IMF.

Now we borrow to lend.

I hope the spread (what we're paying the Chinese to borrow and what we'll be getting from the IMF) won't be negative.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Trevor : "but even Obama admitted that this $100m should be seen as symbolic and a first step in changing the culture."

The administration's position is that we need government spending to stimulate the economy. By trying to cut spending Obama is going against his own policy!

ricpic said...

God bless Obama, he's saving us millions! millions!

Four trillion in new debt? Fuhgedaboudit.

Peter V. Bella said...

It is like that 400.00 tax break he and the media keep touting; less than eight dollars a week.

AllenS said...

They're spending money faster than you think. I'm receiving Social Security and yesterday, I was sent a notice letting me know that under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, I'll be getting (and everyone else receiving Soc. Sec.) a one-time payment of $250. It's almost hard to believe the money that is being spent.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Obama takes substantive measures when he agrees with a policy and symbolic measures when he doesn't.

That's Obama in a sentence!

treeman said...

Six dollars will buy a lot of waffles.

And all liberals are correct - there is never any reason to worry about earmarks or deficits when democrats rule the country.

Peter V. Bella said...

Tomorrow there will be a statement by the teleprompter that the media and enemies of the state got it wrong. They misprinted and misrepresented what the president meant. The President really meant 100 Billion dollars!

Trevor Jackson said...

"By trying to cut spending Obama is going against his own policy!"

Try to keep up, Jason. I know after pallet loads of 8 billion in cash could be allowed to just vanish into Iraq without a peep from a president or his supporters, it can be confusing to see one distinguish between increasing useful spending and decreasing wasteful spending.

former law student said...

First of all, earmarks are earmarks. The Congress wants to make sure that certain things get done with the appropriated money, not just let the Executive Branch piss it all away. Earmarks are thus a form of micromanagement.

Second, earmarks are generally for things that most folks would agree that the people beyond the Beltway actually need. Here is the "List of 2005 Earmarks for WYOMING" from omb.gov. Note that these Congress-specified expenditures are all for road or transportation improvements, needed by everyone who lives in or drives through Wyoming, or who uses goods that have transited Wyoming. I picked Wyoming because their earmarks came closest to the $100 million figure.

In fiscal year 2005, there were 17 earmarks totaling $109,034,000.

Agency: Department of Transportation
Bureau: Federal Highway Administration
Account: Federal-aid Highways
Certifying Official: Chief Financial Officer
Certifying Organization: Federal Highway Administration

To view information about the earmark, click on the earmark title.

2005 Earmarks Amount ($K)
WYO 59 Reconstruction $1,600
Casper Bypass: Reconstruct Old Yellowstone Hwy and 2nd St $4,000
Casper West Belt Loop $1,600
U.S. 85 Passing Lanes $1,600
I-80 Rock Springs Marginal. $1,520
Riverton: Reconstruct Hwy 26--Main St. $880
Burma Rd: Extension from I- 90 to Lakeway Rd $1,600
Burma Rd: Extension from I- 90 to Lakeway. $2,500
U.S. 26-287: repair road from Dubois to Moran Junction, Wyoming to improve access to Yellowstone National Park (Togwotee Pass Reconstruction). $25,000
WYO 59: add lanes between Gillette and Douglas, Wyoming for improved safety and access. $10,000
Casper West Belt Loop: connect three National Highway System routes (WYO 220, U.S. 20-26 and I-25). $21,000
I-80: reconstruct section of I-80 near Rock Springs, Wyoming for improved safety $19,000
I-25: Widen and resurface approximately eight miles of I-25 in Johnson County, Wyoming between Buffalo and Kaycee $5,000
I-90: create I-90/Burma Road overpass to increase community and emergency access in Gillette, Wyoming. $2,500
U.S. 85: add passing lanes on U.S. 85 between Newcastle and Lusk, Wyoming to increase safety $5,000
Fundamental Properties of Asphalt $3,234
Wyoming Department of Transportation-Wyoming Statewide Bus and Bus Related Facilities $3,000
The average earmark in FY2008 was $1.4 million, by the way.

Invisible Man said...

It's funny, Republicans have made a huge issue of Porkbusters and other sideshows about spending which account for saving say $25 to be generous of the $60,000 a year. So, not buying that Quarter Pounder w/ cheese combo is silly but saving one meal for two at Applebee's is down right prudent.

MadisonMan said...

Peter V. Bella seems to think a $400 tax break is nothing, so I figure the Govt should just up everyone's taxes by $400.

It's only $8 a week!

peter hoh said...

Damn, too bad he didn't propose Medicare, Part-D.

John said...

This is about giving people like Former Law Student and Downtown Lad talking points and the ability to obfuscate and lie in the face of the overwelming evidence that BO is bankrupting the country.

It meand nothing. But it serves the purpose of giving his supporters something to talk about. I think blowing smoke would be the operative term.

former law student said...

This is about giving people like Former Law Student ... talking points

No. I agree these sums are trivial, negligible. Reminds me that, flipping channels recently, I saw a three hundred pounder boast of losing seven pounds on the Atkins diet.

TosaGuy said...

Change you can find on the sidewalk!!

Pogo said...

The pittance saved is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

AJ Lynch said...

At his 1st full Cabinet meeting, Obama trumpets an announcement about cutting $100 Million.

By doing this , Obama either thinks Americans are idiots or he himself is an idiot when it comes to numbers.

Which is it?

Daryl said...

Earmarks matter for the same reason that bribes matter. It's the corruption.

Earmarks are used to buy campaign contributions at 1,000 cents on the dollar.

It's a good deal for the Congressmen because they are spending the federal government's money to get campaign contributions for themselves.

Also, earmarks are used to buy off Congressmen when they are taking a stand as a matter of principle (rare as that may be). Dangling earmarks in front of them can get weak-minded ones to switch.

If they refuse to take the earmarks, then in the next election cycle their opponent can call them an ideologue who put partisan politics over bringing home the bacon for the district.

Earmarks encourage businesses to invest in buying congressmen, instead of investing in R&D, because the rate of return is so much better.

John said...

My apologies Former Law Student.

AllenS said...

Re: concerning my post above--

Giving 4,000 Soc. Sec. recipients $250, costs $1,000,000. 40,000 costs $10,000,000. 400,000 costs $100,000,000. There's a hundred million right there. How many people are on Soc. Sec.? I have a hard time realizing why everyone isn't bothered by this.

Peter V. Bella said...

MM,
You missed the point. If you are going to give a tax break, make it a true tax break. Not chump change; change we can't believe in.

h. said...

When your agency's mission statement amounts to saving your corner of the world, how can you cut anything? It takes more people, more stuff, more travel, more technology, more everything to save the world. It's all important. Just ask them. They can't do their jobs with one dime less.

"Changing the culture" would require informing people they are either not needed at all, or not needed at the federal level.

My visual is a set of odd, reptilian creatures protectively circling a pile of indefinite treasure. They squint at me, suspicious, as I near the treasure. "Don't you want to cure disease/help abused children/improve education/change lives/defend the country/do basic research/[insert pet cause here]?" they hiss.

"Well, yeah," I'm forced to answer "but I'm getting a little concerned because your pile is so big. There's not much left in my pile." I see another reptile slither over and throw more of my treasure onto the pile. "Hey, I need that!" I say indignantly and point to the growing pile.

"You are selfish," intones the largest lizard as he leans to the pile and carefully selects a worn paperclip, "we would have used this to revitalize a riverfront for an entire city, but you may have it back because it is sooo important to you."

As I reach forward to take the paperclip another lizard on rollerskates snatches it out of my hand, calling back "Thanks! We need to host a conference on writing grants for hosting conferences. Save the children!"

Well, crap. Saving children is important.

h.

PatCA said...

Meanwhile it was another trillion dollar week. Half a trill to IMF, half a trill promised to someone else. Can't remember who. Doesn't matter. Light is fading now. All just numbers...

downtownlad said...

Well $100 million dollars is twice as much as the $50 million increase in the National Endowment for the Arts that Obama proposed as part of the stimulus package.

There were at least 1000 blogposts condemning that $50 million dollars. I know that many of Ann's commenters thought that the $50 million for the NEA was HUGE issue, and spent a lot of hot air talking about it.

In fact, Ann even had a blogpost about this $50 million:

http://althouse.blogspot.com/2009/01/lets-talk-about-stimulus-package.html

So can we please call all of those people who complained about the $50 million for the NEA and now saying that $100 million in cuts is meaningless - can we call those people hypocrites?

YES WE CAN.

P.S. - I said before that the NEA increase was not where people should be focusing their attention, and I'll say the same for the this $100 million cut. It's very, very, very minor in the scheme of things.

AJ Lynch said...

AllenS:

The 2000 census had 35 million people who were 65 or older.

I'd estimate there are now 55 million who get a soc sec check including disabled under 65 and those who chose early retirement.

The average monthly check is about $1,100 and that jibes with annual spending of $700 Billion or so.

Peter V. Bella said...

NEA got fifty milion? Take it back.

George Grady said...

Dr Evil: Gentlemen, it's come to my attention that a breakaway Russian Republic called Kreplachistan will be transferring a nuclear warhead to the United Nations in a few days. Here's the plan. We get the warhead, and we hold the world ransom...(dramatic pause)...FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

downtownlad said...

No - They didn't get the $50 million.

Because conservatives had a cow and made a HUGE deal about it, and Congress spent hours upon hours debating it.

Because people like Peter Bella think that $50 million is an ENORMOUS amount of money, but people like Peter Bella also think that $100 million is a TINY amount of money. Of course, people like Peter Bella are also not rational.

downtownlad said...

Just to be clear - I think that both $50 million and $100 million are a TINY amount of money, at least when it comes to government spending. And $50 million is twice as TINY as $100 million.

AJ Lynch said...

Just to be clear, I think it is twice as funny when DTL claims someone else is not rational.

downtownlad said...

Care to find ONE example where I haven't been rational bigot?

David said...

AJ Lynch said...

". . . .Obama either thinks Americans are idiots or he himself is an idiot when it comes to numbers."

He thinks we are idiots. I wrote him and told him so. Lot of good it will do.

Pogo said...

"Care to find ONE example where I haven't been rational bigot?"
My kingdom for a comma.

downtownlad said...

I believe Pogo went ballistic over the $50 million for the NEA as well.

Hoosier Daddy said...

(Just to be clear - I think that both $50 million and $100 million are a TINY amount of money, at least when it comes to government spending. And $50 million is twice as TINY as $100 million.)

Just to be clear there are those of us who simply don't think taxpayer money should be used to subsidize someone who passess of a shitty fingerpainting as art.

Peter V. Bella said...

"Care to find ONE example where I haven't been a rational bigot?"

There, all fixed for you DTL. You are now formally considered a rational bigot. You win.

Anthony said...

I doubt most people will even be aware of all this hullabaloo. They'll hear a blurb on the local news about "Obama cutting wasteful government spending" and that's about it. Result: Obama viewed as government watchdog, unlike those awful Republicans.

rocketeer67 said...

DTL and FLS,

The NEA shouldn't have gotten the $50mm. And I'll not criticize Obama for the act of cutting $100mm elsewhere. Hooray for $150mm that WASN'T wasted!

But I'll be damned if I'll act like it's a big deal, and I sure as HELL will complain about him acting like he's doing anything truly meaningful and preening over it.

The Drill SGT said...

former law student said...
I agree.

In terms of impact to the budget, such costcutting is almost as ridiculous and picayune as worrying about earmarks.
what is totally ROFLMAO material is the ways those agencies claim they are going to save their imaginary 100 million.

My DHS wife came home last night and said that the innovative cost cutting measures Janet N promised were more than merely amusing:

- cutting training costs
- cutting unneeded travel
- consolidating the purchase of office supplies

trite doesn't begin to cover them

downtownlad said...

Conservatives are just having a hissyfit, because Obama has already turned around the economy. That's why the stock market is up signficantly since he took office. The S&P 500 is on pace for about an 15% return this year.

And we all know that the stock market is the only measure that counts when it comes to the economy. I know, because Glenn Reynolds said so.

AJ Lynch said...

DTL if you were addressing me, please cite one example where you believe I was a bigot. Or stfu.

downtownlad said...

Rocketeer - It's hard to take you seriously, when conservatives acted like $50 million was a huge deal. When idiot bloggers like Glenn Reynolds talk about porkulus and saving $10,000 here and $5,000 there. What a joke.

If you want to save money - then cut real programs. Like how about eliminating a $1 trillion war for starters.

Let's eliminate Social Security. Personally, if old people starve and die - I don't give a shit - it's their own damn fault for being lazy and not saving their own money. Poor old people deserve to die.

AJ Lynch said...

Sgt:

I worked for a company that asked everyone to scour desk drawers to find surplus pens, etc. to save money on ofc supplies.

They regularly tripped over dollars to pick up pennies. No surprise they are now out of business.

downtownlad said...

AJ Lynch - You voted for McCain. That makes you a bigot.

treeman said...

Hold it, now liberals want the war to end? What the hey - they are in charge, make it so.

Put up or shut up - war is over if you want it.

Just stop whining about it - it's your war now.

downtownlad said...

Obama is winding down the war.

Thank goodness for that. What a waste. Thousands of American soldiers died for nothing.

Freeman Hunt said...

Comparing earmarks or specific expenditures to this $100 million is disingenuous.

It perfectly fine to argue over small expenditures, but when you're spending literally trillions of dollars and people are taking you to task for it, countering your critics by calling a press conference to say you're cutting costs, and they total $100 million is just silly.

Context, people.

Sofa King said...

DTL - do you think that government spending is a problem or not? You've said things that seem to indicate you recognize the issue here, but spend 99% of your time attempting to ridicule the people who are actually worried about it.

Does hypocrisy matter more to you than the fiscal solvency of the U.S.?

Jason (the commenter) said...

Trevor : I know after pallet loads of 8 billion in cash could be allowed to just vanish into Iraq without a peep from a president or his supporters, it can be confusing to see one distinguish between increasing useful spending and decreasing wasteful spending.Obama was asked if some of the spending that was going on was wasteful, and he said that the purpose of spending is spending.

I've heard much better defenses of Obama from conservatives than from supposed Obama supporters. It's sad when all they can ever say is "He's better than Bush," or "He can make complete sentences." Anyone would be better than Bush, anyone can make complete sentences. How is doing something anyone can do a positive? I'd like to see excellence in my President, not the bare minimum.

Pogo said...

"I believe Pogo went ballistic over the $50 million for the NEA as well."
You also believe in fairies and the yeti.

I believe I'll have another drink.

Salamandyr said...

DTL, in the one case, the 50 million for the NEA was part of a host of unnecessary spending within the so-called "stimulus". It notoriety was not in the size, but more in the uselessness of the money for the stated purpose. It could have been a dollar. It was money mis-spent, emblemmatic of the much larger amount of mis-spent money in the stimulus.

By comparison, this 100 million dollars is an entirety unto itself. It is not as if this 100 million is one small parcel of a much larger budget cutting package; it's the package!.

Shanna said...

I have a hard time realizing why everyone isn't bothered by this.They’ve kept it on the QT. I only heard about it a few days ago (vets are getting it too, it's not just SS).

Peter V. Bella said...

“Personally, if old people starve and die - I don't give a shit - it's their own damn fault for being lazy and not saving their own money. Poor old people deserve to die.”

First they came for the old. I was not old. I did not care.
Then they came for the poor. I was not poor. I did not care.
Then they came for the poor and the old. I was not poor and old. I did not care.
Then the came for DTL. Who gives a rats ass.

AllenS said...

downtownlad said..."Personally, if old people starve and die - I don't give a shit"



Classy.

former law student said...

My DHS wife came home last night and said that the innovative cost cutting measures Janet N promised were more than merely amusing:

We need an "Obama is like Reagan" tag.

My ex-BIL worked for OSHA when Reagan was elected, inspecting construction sites. Reagan wanted to cut government spending, so they took the inspectors' cars away. But the job sites still had to be inspected, so my BIL used his personal car, turning in his mileage for reimbursement.

Hey, I wonder if the FBI could save money by eliminating cars for their agents?

Peter V. Bella said...

“Thousands of American soldiers died for nothing.”

We never have to smell your breath to know your head is up your ass.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Freeman Hunt : Comparing earmarks or specific expenditures to this $100 million is disingenuous.

Yes, we should be comparing 100 million to a 3,690,000 million dollar budget.

rocketeer67 said...

Rocketeer - It's hard to take you seriously, when conservatives acted like $50 million was a huge deal.It was for the NEA. And sold as stimulus, which it most assuredly was not.

And please spare me any ineffective barbs about "seriousness" when you say things like "Obama's already turned the economy around."

Periodically, I make the mistake of trying to engage you constructively, after you've repeatedly demonstrated it's impossible, and after you've repreatedly demonstrate your irrationality and lack of seriousness.

Guess it's time for another break from reasoning with unreasonableness personified.

Hoosier Daddy said...

(Obama is winding down the war.
)

You're quite mistaken DTL, he's simply transferring the emphasis from one theater to another.

rocketeer67 said...

You're quite mistaken DTL, he's simply transferring the emphasis from one theater to another.Which he can do, of course, only because Bush actually accomplished the mission in the Iraqi theater.

traditionalguy said...

The jealousy issue about who gets more money than I got is what we have Cogressional politics for... the old crab bucket story in action. Today's Massive new wealth transfer, being done by inflating American dollars until we will beg for a new World Currency issued by a World Bank authorized by a World Government, is the Obama story being analysed here. Comparing one set of "wing nut" complaints to the other set is like comparing firecrackers toa Hydrogen Bomb.

Buford Gooch said...

The Dow opened at 8279.63 on 1/20/09. The Dow is right now 7922.65

Jeremy said...

And the money spent in Iraq was the same as flushing it down toilet.

JAL said...

Jeremychael hates the people of Iraq.

(WHY am I bothering??)

Henry Buck said...

This is a monthly reminder to please, please. please ignore DTL. There is no point, whatever it is simply makes stuff up, and you will waste your time finding the correct information, only to have more, different filth spew from its keyboard.

What happened to the strike against trolls from earlier this year?

Bruce Hayden said...

"First of all, earmarks are earmarks. The Congress wants to make sure that certain things get done with the appropriated money, not just let the Executive Branch piss it all away. Earmarks are thus a form of micromanagement."

Note how he cherry picked picked Wyoming for his examples of earmarks. The same state that has probably never sent a Democrat to Congress (and was one of the states that the LDS promised the Republicans if they allowed Utah into the Union). Why not pick CA, with Feinstein and Boxer, or even NV with Harry Reid? Or, horror upon horror, PA with John Murtha?

Yes, Congress micromanages with earmarks. Which is why the levees broke in NOLA during Katrina, after all their Corps of Engineering money was earmarked to be spent elsewhere in the state on more "important" projects.

If the agencies were allowed to spend the money allocated to them without such strings, it is highly likely that it would be spent more wisely than it is now, buying votes for Congress members.

BTW, talking about low levels of corruption and California Senators, did anyone else notice that DiFi managed to get her husband a nice FDIC contract in trade for shoveling the agency $25 billion?

Bruce Hayden said...

Another example of FLS's lawmakers micromanaging federal expenditures.

Since I mentioned John Murtha above, I should point out the John Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pa., to which its namesake has diverted $200 million in federal funds over the last 10 years, during which time, passenger traffic has dropped in half there.

It looks like about the only using the airport any more is the esteemed Representative himself.

AJ Lynch said...

I have been to the Robert Byrd airport in WV. It looks like it gets maybe 10-20 passengers a day!

Pissed Off Hillbilly said...

I'm calling bullshit on that one, AJ.

As funny as it may sound, there is no Robert Byrd Airport in West Virginia.

former law student said...

Why not pick CA, with Feinstein and Boxer, or even NV with Harry Reid? Or, horror upon horror, PA with John Murtha? Tsk tsk tsk. Why assume bad faith on the part of your political opponents?*

The article Althouse linked to gave examples of how little 100 million dollars was. I pointed out it was almost the same as a year's worth of earmarks for Wyoming. Further, none of the money earmarked for Wyoming was frivolous.

From the article:

The president gave his Cabinet 90 days to find $100 million in savings to achieve over time.

For all the trumpeting, the effort raised questions about why Obama set the bar so low, considering that $100 million amounts to:

_Less than one-quarter of the budget increase that Congress awarded to itself.

_4 percent of the military aid the United States sends to Israel.

_Less than half the cost of one F-22 fighter plane.

*I don't assume bad faith on the part of Republicans, even though the Republican Lee Atwater invented dirty tricks. (Karl Rove learned well from the Master. No David Axelrod could have spread the rumor that Hillary Clinton gave birth to a pickaninny.)

Joe said...

the Republican Lee Atwater invented dirty tricksGuess you've never heard of Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton....

Leland said...

As Buford points out, the markets are not up since Obama took over. If one wants to pick a market, like S&P as an example, then they might consider the word "significant" means something to people who study statistics.

And I'll point out again that the NYSE industrial average was around 14,000 before the Democratic controlled Congress took over.

As for FLS, if Obama did as well as the 300 lb guy losing 7 lbs on Atkins, then Obama would cut $80 billion from his budget. So your analogy would be like the fat guy saying he lost .1 ounce on Atkins.

Bruce Hayden said...

As I pointed out, picking Wyoming is likely cherry picking, since it is one of the two or three reddest states in the Union. As such, it was likely much less likely that its Congress members would get the sort of egregious pork and earmarks that the most powerful Democrats have pulled into their states recently.

I will admit that earmarks, per se, are not that significant as far as a percentage of the budget. But they are when it comes to Congressional corruption.

So, instead of defending John Murtha, Barbara Feinstein, Harry Reid, et al. and their egregious earmarks, FLS goes back to his misdirection using solidly Republican Wyoming as his example.

And, I guess since we are talking de minimis here, it is probably ok that the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chairman of the House Ways and Means committee are both tax cheats, since the amount that they cheated by doesn't show up even as rounding error.