American Elephants

There’s Plenty of Revenue: The Problem is Spending! by The Elephant's Child

No wonder the White House hates Fox News so much. They ask real questions and don’t accept administration prevarication. Awkward. This administration has an unusual propensity for getting caught telling whoppers, and the media arm of the White House usually tries to cover up.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner appeared on Fox News Sunday yesterday to talk about the rude and uncooperative Republicans who were not agreeing promptly to raise taxes on the rich the way Obama wanted.

The problem is that Chris Wallace is usually very well-informed. He challenged Tim Geithner on the lack of real spending cuts in the proposal he brought to Capitol Hill last week.  Geithner objected, claiming that the White House has trillions of cuts in their proposal — from ending the wars.

Wallace reminded Geithner that no one planned to keep fighting those wars in the first place. Geithner lost his cool and started complaining about Republican gimmicks.  That’s funny. These are the people who double count the same savings, create imaginary ones, anything in order to keep from cutting spending at all. They have no intention of cutting spending. None.

WALLACE: Or they now say because you’re not willing to cut spending enough.

GEITHNER: No, but that’s not true. Again, if they want to do more on the spending side than the $600 billion we proposed on top of the trillion already enacted, in top of the savings from the wars, then they can tell us how they propose –

WALLACE: Savings in the wars that we were never going to fight?

GEITHNER: No, that’s not true. We’re — as you know, we’re winding down two wars.

WALLACE: I understand that.


WALLACE: And you are thinking savings that nobody thought that you were going to spend that money anyway. It’s a budget gimmick, sir.

GEITHNER: No, that’s not right. You know, let me say it this way, those were expensive wars, not just in Americans lives but in terms of the taxpayers’ resources. And when you end them as the president is doing, they reduce our long term deficits and like in the Republican budget proposals, the world should reflect and recognize what that does in savings.

And we propose to use those savings to reduce the deficits and help invest in rebuilding America. We think that makes a lot of sense.

WALLACE: But it was money that wasn’t going to be spent anyway, and –

GEITHNER: If those wars have gone on, they would be spent.

WALLACE: I understand. But you’re not saving — you’re not ending the wars for budget purposes. You’re ending the wars because of a foreign policy decision. The wars weren’t going to be fought. You’re not really saving money.

GEITHNER: Chris, we all agree –

WALLACE: I mean, it’s a budget gimmick, but it’s money never intended to spend.

GEITHNER: No, it’s not a budget gimmick unless you are — when Republicans propose, it’s a budget gimmick?

WALLACE: Sure, absolutely.

GEITHNER: And you should address that to them. But what it does is –

WALLACE: Well — so, I’m addressing it to you.

Watch for the attempt to use the $716 billion that Obama already took out of Medicare payments to providers, and the funds saved by not invading Canada. That should be a lot. Geithner has already insisted that there will not be a fiscal-cliff deal unless Republicans agree to hike taxes on the Rich. How embarrassing to have to try to sell this phony stuff. Geithner knows better.

The rich already pay far more than their “fair share.” The top 10% of taxpayers pay 70.5% of all taxes.The bottom 90% of taxpayers (the rest) pay 29.5% of all taxes. The bottom 50% of taxpayers pay just 2.3% of all taxes. So who’s not paying their “fair share?” American income taxes are among the most progressive in the world.

The problem is not a lack of revenue. It is the spending habits of this particular president. He is way out of his depth, and it becomes more obvious every day. Better go back to the drawing board, Mr. Secretary.

Maybe if the House could revoke that $4 million the president is going to spend on his vacation, it would get his attention.

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And, it should be noted, that amount that they are claiming to be “saving” from ending those wars is more than the two wars cost altogether.

(While we’re at it, why not claim savings from not fighting Germany, Japan, North Korea, and Viet Nam… ought to be able to squeeze a few bucks out of that)

Obama is once again counting on the ignorance of the populace so far as budgeting is concerned. He is offering nothing positive other than raising taxes, and is attacking the other side for not agreeing with him… the only thing he has ever shown any real talent for doing. I’ve read through sections of several federal budgets, and every single one of them has contained accounting gimmicks that would get someone from private industry put in jail (in fact, one of the things Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling of Enron were convicted of was trying to do what Geithner was persuading Wallace was perfectly reasonable… claim savings to be used as revenue from a project that was never funded and was cancelled).

The problem Geithner and the administration is having with persuading anyone familiar with budgeting of this ploy is simply this… Funding used to pay for military operations during wartime are NEVER included in the regular budget, and are not debated during the regular budget processes. War appropriations are done separately on an “as needed” basis (primary debate for war appropriations are done by assorted defense committees, with the Budget committees consulted only prior to the floor vote… the ides being that whatever the military needs to prosecute the war, they pretty much get). Wallace is aware of how this works not only because he’s a damn good reporter, but also because when Democrats started demagoguing the financing of the war in Iraq, he was shown exactly how the appropriation process works (in fact, a good friend of mine was the liaison for Wallace at the Pentagon during this time).


Comment by Lon Mead

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