Himes predicted Thursday night his colleagues in Washington will fail to reach a fiscal compromise by a March 1 deadline, triggering a steep and indiscriminate round of budget cuts that he said will wreak havoc on the economy, commercial aviation, the Defense Department and education.
“After two or three weeks of people waiting three hours in line at the airport, because you’ve got fewer TSA agents at the (magnetometers) and X-ray machines, as people come to understand what this means for defense contractors in northern Virginia, California and elsewhere — Connecticut frankly. As people come to feel what it means to have $83 billion in cuts in one year, the pressure will mount on the institution and a deal will get done,” Himes said, referring to the Transportation Security Administration.
Let’s examine Jimbo’s fears: The Wall Street Journal did in an editorial yesterday and its editors were more sanguine than our “investment banker” from John Corzine’s old firm:
Americans need to understand that Mr. Obama is threatening that if he doesn’t get what he wants, he’s ready to inflict maximum pain on everybody else. He won’t force government agencies to shave spending on travel and conferences and excessive pay and staffing. He won’t demand that agencies cut the lowest priority spending as any half-competent middle manager would.
It’s the old ploy to stir public support for all government spending by shutting down vital services first. Voters should scoff at the idea that a $3.6 trillion government can’t save one nickel of every dollar that agencies spend. The $85 billion in savings is a mere 2.3% of total spending. The agencies that the White House says can’t save 5% received an average increase in their budgets of 17% in the previous five years—not counting their $276 billion stimulus bonus.
[Despite Obama’s – and Himes’ – claim that the economy is now improving] … Mr. Obama just whacked the economy with a roughly $160 billion tax increase in 2013 that he says will do no harm, but he wants us to believe that $85 billion in spending cuts will trigger a recession. The sequester shaves the equivalent of about 0.25% of GDP when offsetting it against the extra money the feds are spending on Sandy relief.
After World War II federal spending fell from 42% of GDP to 14.8% in two years, yet the private economy and employment roared back to life. In the 1980s domestic spending fell by about two percentage points of GDP and in the 1990s it fell by more than three. Those were decades of government austerity but rapid growth in private output and wealth. Mr. Obama has taken government spending from 21% to 24% of GDP, yet we’ve had the weakest economic recovery in three generations.
• A tax increase disguised as “tax reform.” Mr. Obama isn’t proposing to substitute other spending reforms for the blunt instrument of the sequester. He is actually demanding another tax increase on top of the one he just beat out of Congress. His trick is to pretend that this is “tax reform” that would eliminate loopholes, but this is the same President who insisted on more than $30 billion in tax breaks for big business (including $12 billion for the wind industry) in the fiscal-cliff deal.
The real point is this: Himes et als are playing the “crossing guard game”, a phrase I coined when, some years ago, our Greenwich Police Chief responded to a demand for a cut in his budget by firing all the $6-an-hour school crossing guards. The national Democrats, naturally, think larger than that, but it’s the same ploy: instead of cutting out trips to Las Vegas for hundreds of employees, they focus on discharging minimum wage TSA goons (which I fully support, but never mind). Instead of eliminating FDA “diversity seminars” that define the Pilgrims as “illegal aliens” they get rid of low-paid packing plant inspectors. Instead of asking whether somewhere in some Congressman’s district their isn’t an unnecessary, unwanted-by the Pentagon weapons program and instead talk of firing 800,000 soldiers.
And so on. Politicians like Himes aren’t serious about cutting the budget because they don’t want to cut the budget – quite the opposite. So they generate scare stories and their public relations firm, the national media, goes along. Bitter clingers, hang on.