This honestly is the most tone deaf thing I have ever seen Obama do:
A president’s first Cabinet meeting, like the White House Easter Egg Roll, is a spring rite that’s more photo op than substantive event.
Barack Obama gathered his Cabinet members around a White House table Monday and asked them collectively to find $100 million in cost cuts over the next three months. That’s a fraction of a fraction of the federal deficit, and it quickly drew ridicule from pundits and Republicans.
What on earth are they thinking? Earlier I thought he was asking every cabinet head to come up with 100 million, and thought that was laughable. $100 million for all of them is even more ridiculous, and not to mention it undercuts the message that the government should be spending during the recession to make up for lost demand in the private sector.
So what gives with this?
Its called a symbolic gesture.
“So, Mr GOP guy, let’s hear your better idea?”
– end scene –
I’m not sure I think it’s such a bad idea.
There can be a lot of fat in budgets like the ones various departments might have.
I wonder a bit if the intended audience for this is the rest of federal bureaucracy, not the public. Seeing cost-cutting come down from the top can send the right kind of message.
I don’t see this as an Obama fan-boy, I have friends who have served as deans and found a lot of obvious stuff to cut.
Obama decided to do his John McCain impression, in which he professes that all our fiscal problems can be solved by meaningless gestures. This is a similar kind of dumb to the whole earmark nonsense.
John, I don’t get you on this. Saved money is a good thing, no matter how little. The point of stimulus is to put money out there in the hands of the public, but that doesn’t mean all money spent is equal. Government waste is still bad.
Saved money from some horrible inefficiency can be then put to better use.
Just because Chip Reid ridiculed it doesn’t mean much to me.
It doesn’t matter, because with Cheney now asking for the CIA to declassify memos showing how effective the torture was, all the oxygen is about to be sucked out of the room.
I think the odds of the right-wingnuts falling for this are pretty fucking good.
It’s more a symbolic gesture than anything else. A nod towards a more efficient government.
I guess it’s “only” $100 million, but hey, if they can find that much worth of wasted pens and post-its, every little bit counts.
Maybe he reads blogs and is practicing his snark.
You forgot to mention that he also demanded that each of them bring him a shrubbery.
Just Some Fuckhead
I’m gonna just go on thinking 100M is a fuckton of money if it’s all the same to you. Maybe when my blog takes off I’ll get some perspective..
Yea, I am going with symbolic, too. Asking bureaucracies to cut their budgets is like asking regular folks to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Largely metaphorical; not, strictly speaking, a physical possibility.
But what irks me more is how the GOP is suddenly mocking $100 million as trivial when they do things like harp for weeks and weeks about things like the $1 million Hillary supported for a Woodstock museum. (remember that?)
OMG!!! The Dems spent ONE MILLION DOLLARS!!! its the largest amount evah! What the dem’s want to cut $100 million? But thats only like 0.001% of the budget? OH MY GOD!!!! $300k is being spent on a bike path! Gov’t Waste!
I think its worth noting that it’s $100 million in addition to other cuts, i.e. defense spending. Gibsy also made it clear in the presser that this isn’t the end of the cuts, it just happend to be what went down today.
He said he was going to go line by line and end wasteful spending and broken programs. I think its unrealistic for us to think that will happen as a result of one meeting.
It’s a process.
Anyone else think Cheney let his anger and hubris get the better of him on this?
IMO this is an unforced error and will turn around and bite his ass. Up till now, the proposed truth commissions all had the stigma of being “witch hunts”. Republicans could scream from start to finish like whiny children. Now, however, they lose that angle, and I considered that angle their only shot.
Somehow, Dick Cheney just gave away their trump card for free.
Hugo Chavez told him to do it. Clearly.
I know it’s cynical but I suspect that he is taking advantage of the fact that most voters don’t understand orders of magnitude but that 1*108 dollars sure sounds big!
I saw somewhere today that DHS estimates it can save $50 million over 5 years by purchasing office supplies in bulk. They must use a ludicrous amount of ballpoints, paperclips, and legal pads to save that much.
kommrade reproductive vigor
Meh. Being smarter about awarding bids on a variety of contracts and becoming more energy efficient could take care of that. They’ll still spend money, but they’ll be smarter about it. When he tells everyone to go on a shopping spree to help the economy, then I’ll be pissed.
Like I said in an earlier thread, $100 million was certainly a lot when the wingnuts were focused on earmarks in the Omnibus bill. Besides that you have to start somewhere.
One also must remember that a large part of the nationally televised GOP response to Obama’s not-quite State of the Union address was centered around a $140 million dollar thing called volcano monitoring.
The way Jindal portrayed it, we could cut the national debt in half over night if we didn’t spent that $140 million.
So two numbers that are relatively equal are portrayed as vastly different sized sums of money.
The super script worked in preview, really.
I actually thought this was pretty brilliant…in part because I imagine they’ll find more than $100 million easily.
If they come back with $500 million worth of cuts, it’s going to look a lot more impressive than it would have had they just announced that right off.
In all fairness the people doing the most shrill whinging about the debt/deficit have no concept of big numbers anyway. Million/Billion is pretty much interchangeable to them.
Which won’t stop them from complaining.. just stop the sound bites for a while.
If you watch Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman has this deal where whenvever any number comes up above a million she draws it out. “Haliburton recieved a $50 millllllllion dollar contract for X”. After the economy went haywire, the whole intro was this long list of drawn out numbers, “$500 billlllion dollars, $200 billlllllion dollars, 2.4 trilllllion dollars”. I *do* understand the difference in all this, but I still look at a newspaper headline that says the state’s budget is $11.5 billion in the red and I stare at it and can’t figure out anymore if that’s a big deal or not.
DHS also happened to mention that they can save $3 million by not paying consultants to design logos. Fuck me. How many logos, at what cost, does DHS need?
kommrade reproductive vigor
@Comrade Jake: Cthcheney ‘s going to get a nasty shock when he remembers he can’t control the content of the report.
@kommrade reproductive vigor:
[Redacted] “We’ve waterboarded [Redacted] 200 times and he won’t confess.
[Redacted] “I’ll shoot that fucker in the face and see how he likes that.”
Polish the Guillotines
@Unabogie: I think you’re on to something. Team Obama seems to be damn good at the psy-ops. They know how to bait a trap, lay back, and let their opposition do all the heavy lifting.
What better outcome could there be than to have Dick Cheney himself call for the release of classified torture docs?
Drip, drip, drip….
I know what he was trying to do, I think, but you’re right, this came off badly.
A key Democratic plank for as long as I can remember has been that we have to both increase spending and keep an insanely tight rein on waste. That goes all the way back to the New Deal, if I remember correctly; inspectors general were given broad powers to investigate waste, fraud, and abuse to make sure New Deal projects were getting real bang for their buck. (It worked–we’re still depending heavily on a lot of seventy-year-old WPA projects.) A tiny budget cut is one way to that–it’ll shake out a bit of waste, by forcing everyone to find things they can cut without firing people or cutting programs.
If that’s what Obama was trying to get across, he should have proposed strengthening the powers of inspectors general instead (as you’d expect, they were virtually powerless during the Bush years). You’re right, a relatively tiny across-the-board budget cut is hopelessly tone-deaf.
“I actually thought this was pretty brilliant…in part because I imagine they’ll find more than $100 million easily.
If they come back with $500 million worth of cuts, it’s going to look a lot more impressive than it would have had they just announced that right off.”
Good point — I am getting so tired though… how are we going to make it through another 4 years and we havent made it through the first 100 days? The mileage and wear and tear have been tremendous. Don’t know how HE stands it — I can barely take it — Maybe its one of those time collapse things — we fell in a black hole and time got compressed and we lived 8 years in 100 days… trick though is that the outcome is still a mystery — we just FEEL like we lived the 8 years in 100 days…
Hey, that could be money well spent. Lowest-bidder graphic design is how we ended up with this.
I kind of like it. When’s the last time a President told all the Cabinet members to cut budgets? Even if it’s only a tiny amount in the large deficit scheme of things, it’s still a large amount of money. A penny saved and all.
Plus, since they’re not told to go off to their independent department and each come up with the money, but instead they’re told to find it collectively, it may get people working together that haven’t done so in the past. Maybe there are departments that can share some expenses, etc. I think this “working together” issue is a key part of it.
Sure it’s small, but it’s symbolic. It’s a good place to start. Better than asking them to come up with some huge amount of money to cut and get into the whole “you can’t cut MY program” discussions. Don’t need to be opening up that can of worms right now.
The Moar You Know
@AhabTRuler: No lasers and hot space chicks. Why do I want to go there?
Come on, Cole’s right – it’s lame. And since when does the President have to ‘ask’ his cabinet appointees to cut some fat out of their budget.
Obama probably saw “Dave” and thought it would float. A better symbolic gesture would be to attempt a prosecution of torturers.
It’s possible that the number is artificially low and Obama’s cabinet is looking for egregious Republican crap… It might be a setup where Obama comes back and says: “We can save a billion dollars if we close the EPA’s prayer testing facility in Utah.”
Yeah, I found it bizarre as well. $100M doesn’t even sound like a lot when we’re used to hearing about billions here, billions there.
No, I suspect Cheney knows damn well those memos can’t be declassified, for a number of reasons. That’s why this works for him – he gets to pretend that they ordered the torture because it worked and that Obama’s just playing politics by not releasing the memos. He will likely be able to do this regardless of any truth commission findings.
This guy didn’t get to be VP without knowing how to sidestep some landmines.
Shawn in Showme
You’d think you would have learned by now to wait two weeks and see how this gambit actually shakes out. You’re still playing checkers, man.
@Shawn in Showme:
I thought this was a pretty lame idea until I saw how the Republicans reacted to it. But now that we’ve got the GOP sputtering that trimming $100 million from the budget is a bad thing, I’m not so sure.
If he was that good, he wouldn’t have run the country, and his own reputation, into the ground.
I think he may *think* he can’t be exposed on this, but when the torture regime itself asks for the fig leaf to be removed, don’t be shocked to see his Dick.
Look, there are two possibilities here:
(1) Obama’s about to pull a brilliant maneuver out of his ass, as he’s done repeatedly in the past. If that’s the case, he’s already anticipated, and is counting on, exactly the reaction that John’s espousing.
(2) Obama’s being an idiot, for once. This does happen to absolutely everyone occasionally, no matter how clever they are. (I’ve seen in professionally–plans based on “X never makes a mistake” thinking fall apart the first time X has a flu, or her kid’s sick, or his wife suggests a trial separation, or he’s just having a really bad day.) In that case, a giant reaction of “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” from the liberal blogs is the best thing that can happen, because it might snap him out of it, so he can return to his usual N-dimensional chess (N≫1).
(In a nutshell, this is how a lot of generally not stupid people in the Bush administration turned into The Worst Administration Ever–they all sat around reassuring each other that they were the Smartest Guys Ever, and then made a collection of boneheaded moves that’d embarrass a college intern.)
Good point. It must be very strange to be President Obama. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.
I agree that Obama doesn’t walk on water, but honestly none of us should underestimate the power of the Republicans to use this issue to self-immolate. After all, they’ve been talking nonsense all day about Obama shaking some fucking dude’s hand and smiling too much, for Chrissakes.
The Cat Who Would Be Tunch
I was going to avoid the link since it was to Fox News but I guess I was just bored. This caught my eye:
“Showed the success”?! You’ve gotta be kidding me. Hey, the Taliban were incredibly effective at wiping out the opium trade in Afghanistan only by using public floggings, burning entire farms (irrespective of the damage to surrounding areas), patrolling in trucks with RPGs and the like. Since the Taliban showed us the “success” of their approach to opium control, let’s institute their policies in the America’s War on Drugs. Right?
What an idiotic line of thinking. I just hope that this meme doesn’t permeate and take hold of the public conscience, that somehow just because something is effective makes a morally reprehensible act OK.
To all that are defending… this WAS really stupid. $100 million? You could easily trim that from the budget. $100 billion – that’s not even a lot these days.
$100 million? Laughable.
Oh! Let’s trim 33¢ per American! Sacrifice! Wow!
What a bogus expenditure. And if I read the news item correctly, it was over a 5 year period. How many other agencies have these fat contracts for logos and seals? I’m going to assume any government agency with a budget means boondoggle a go go.
The $100 million did seem like a paltry goal. I also wonder why Obama took to opportunity of the Cabinet meeting to announce this.
he should next challenge congress to cut their budgets. didn’t the repukes actually demand and get a generous increase to fund their obstructionist, er, committee operations despite their minority status and loss of several members because old fighting harry just didn’t feel like dealing with it.
i’d love for obama to next target congress’ free-spending habits where it effects them directly and not just as a lack of available pork for the folks back home.
I think something like this is as stupid as all the republican pork-busters who think taking away $1 million for bike trails and $500k for gang tattoo removal is going to balance the books. It won’t, and it’s not particularly symbolic either.
That’s why I am going to pretend this is a big joke and Obama’s way of saying “Fuck You” to all those aforementioned people.
I only wish ACORN sent out a press release today announcing a $100 million dollar anonymous donation.
Edit: Coinciding with the groundbreaking for the B. Soetero Immigration and Naturalization Center
did you ever see this:
yes. it’s for real.
I like it too. If he had asked for a huge amount, they’d just slash a program that actually benefits people. But for a small amount, they might actually start looking at the tiny little expenses that, over the course of a year, REALLY add up. Slashing a program doesn’t really wind up doing squat. But getting all of these departments to use their budgets more efficiently and cut back on the silly stuff? I don’t see a drawback to that.
I mean, aren’t we peons always being told that to save money, we need to look at the “latte factor”? It’s kind of the same principle, when you think of it.
Not only has Obama done something silly tonight, but I actually had ice cream I don’t like tonight. The Haagen Dasz Passion fruit is meh.
Where is Laura W. tonight?
@Michael D.: To all that are defending…
You haven’t read the defenses very carefully, have you?
Left Coast Tom
I’m not sure I see any difference between $100M per department and $100M overall. Both numbers are off by an order of magnitude if one is looking at the deficit…changing a multiple doesn’t make any real difference relative to changing an exponent. Of course, we’re in an economic situation where simply dropping cash out of a helicopter might be better than doing nothing. So I’m not sure why Obama’s talking about cutting $100M, whether it’s per department _or_ overall.
I would like to have been there, though, if Obama had acted all serious and told all the assembled department heads that they needed to trim out about a TRILLION dollars from their budgets.
And look at them very seriously for about a minute, before calling in the laundry service for all the stained underwear.
Brick Oven Bill
This was a really dumb move by the Administration and I am surprised that Axelrod allowed this to get by. The good news for the nation is that even dogma-burdened reporters do not appreciate being patronized. The AP response was pleasantly surprising. As is this post at Balloon Juice.
This is what happens when you put a guy who has never met a payroll, and has spent a life in academia with a birth-right of privilege, into a position of authority. I hope that the press, and this web-site, continue to judge Obama by the content of his character.
$100 million is the cost of one half of one F-22, or one 1800th of the AIG money.
Just Some Fuckhead
@Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist: Michael D. doesn’t do careful.
Talk about cynicism. It’s 100 million and it’s a start. It’s not as if it’s Obama’s entire gameplan. It’s a single piece in a multi-part jigsaw. Stay tuned for more.
Are you sure your disappointment with the ice cream isn’t tainting your reaction? :)
To any fellow Canucks, if you haven’t tried the Compliments Sensations ice cream in Roasted Marshmallow Crunch, I highly recommend it.
I seem to recall someone here asking about cinnamon ice cream. They also make “Cinn-ful Apple Swirl” (vanilla with apple, graham crumble clusters and swirls of cinnamon)
@Brick Oven Bill:
And yet, here you are Bill, still dumb as rocks.
100 million in cost savings is not the same as actual budget cuts. This is talking about ways to reduce costs without cutting programs, like Big Fat Al’s re-inventing government gig, only on a miniscule scale.
Still, compare the GOP reaction to this vis a vis the cost of, say DNA studies on grizzly bears.
Yeah, it’s ONLY a hundred mil, blahdy blahdy blah. Doing away with one hundred million freaking dollars worth of logo designs and brand name toner ink goes a lot further than getting rid of $140 million worth of volcano monitoring.
Clinton and Dubya to “debate” in Toronto (it’s billed as a conversation).
HS Truman made it big by investigating waste in defense contracts in the midst of WWII. FDR picked him half because the public liked knowing someone was trying to spend money wisely, and half because it was better to have him on the inside pissing out than the outside pissing in.
REGO did wind up saving hundreds of billions after several years. There’s nothing wrong with believing the government should spend as much as it needs to and no more. Wise spending means you can serve more citizens for less money.
Look, frames like this:
$100 million in cuts. Achievable goal, although modest. You can’t effectively criticize it using the Republican’s main line of attack. The idea is unassailable by Blue Dogs as well; none of them dare risk their pork projects over $100 million, especially not to land punches on Obama. “Number fatigue” will prevent the media from hammering this very hard. To most people $100 million is a big chunk of change.
What ever happened to setting a good example? You know, try to inspire the citizens of the country to be just a little less wasteful?
Not so bad… at least it’s not an expansion of faith based initiatives.
First he’s bowing to a King. Then he’s shaking hands with Hitler! And now…
I can’t even speak!
@Mario Piperni: I for one am tired of hearing about Obama’s multipart jigsaw puzzles and 3d chess games. As far as I’m concerned he can do whatever he wants over the next 4-8 years as long as it drives Republicans crazy, but I’m not going to delude myself into thinking every blunder and misstep he has is all a part of an elaborate game plan.
Look, Obama is a cautious incrementalist at heart. This initiative fits in. It’s an easy win – it will be successful, and most people don’t comprehend how big the federal budget really is – and low-info swing voters are likely to know less. He won’t burn any political capital by taking on big programs, but will gain voter trust by being able to point to specific cuts. And once he has that trust, he will better positioned to go after bigger things – things that aren’t backed by voters but get passed due to our system of legalized bribery .
It doesn’t thrill me because I am sure I could find 10s of billions in spending and over 100 billion in tax expenditures I would zero out tomorrow. But I’m not running the show, and Obama has done a decent job so far, so I’ll wait a bit before judging today’s announcement.
@srv: And now…I can’t even speak!
At least we can be pretty sure he isn’t asking the dude from Brazil about whether they have blacks there.
@bvac: I’m not going to delude myself into thinking every blunder and misstep he has is all a part of an elaborate game plan.
That is wise. I’m sure happier hearing that Obama is an all-powerful chess master than that Karl Rove is, but I take your point.
We don’t know yet that this move by Obama is a blunder, but I can see it going either way.
And Jon Stewart takes down Peggy Noonan, right wing pundits, AND the administration in the same segment. FTW!
What a bunch of assholes.
@bvac: And that’s exactly what he planned for you to do in the first place. He also knew I would type this right at this moment.
Well, at least Obama proved one thing. Drop a pebble in a puddle and the wingnuts dive in head first to find their Outrage Pony.
@arguingwithsignposts: There’s space available for rent between Peggy Noonan’s ears.
God damn do you sweat the small shit sometimes…..
Colbert is killing with the pirate sketch.
It’s not a symbolic gesture because the Cabinet don’t allocate the funds (Congress does that), the funds are handed to them. So he asks the people that bear no direct responsibility for the budget at all to give something back.
And yes, they’ll all return with more than they need to return with and more than $100M will be saved. The real question is how many of them will return with earmark dollars, and how will Republicans attack Obama over this, because at this point it seems to me that every little move like this that Obama makes, cutting $100M, opening up Cuba ever so slightly, shaking hands with Chavez, etc. results in the GOP comparing it to the end of western civilization. Obama is going for death by a thousand self-inflicted cuts.
John, I’m sorry, but sometimes you’re a fool. This is an easy win for Obama.
He set a cost-cutting goal that is A) achievable, B) very sizable to the average American, C) does not put his recovery plans at risk, and most importantly D) economic policy that meets the “common sense” test of most households. When times are tough, the family doesn’t just focus on saving on big-ticket items, you cut the waste everywhere; with Obama having to sell the Paradox of Thrift to the American People, it helps that he can bow to conventional wisdom in minor matters. It helps burnish his centrist creds–when the hubbub about “out-of-control spending” reached a peak on the Right, Obama instructed his Cabinet to cut wasteful spending to streamline government. It’s hard for the Right to attack–it goes from “Obama’s out-of-control spending” to “Obama’s cutting waste, but just not enough”. The Right does TERRIBLY when they can’t make stark, frightening contrasts, and you just can’t make that contrast here. It’s chum that the people (and hopefully the media) will eat up, it doesn’t jeopardize his central economic policy one bit, and it is GOOD (if inconsequential) policy.
they could probably make a good start at this by reversing some of the more ridiculous outsourcing decisions that the Bush administration made.
I neither understand the people who are upset over this or think this is some brilliant move. Who cares about this, really? It’s a nice symbolic gesture where Obama could have just done nothing. I don’t think it makes him some great strategic hero or a traitor, because… really, who cares?
Yeah yeah fiscal responsibility is important, but there are bigger budgetary problems than waste. And calling it a blunder is giving the administration too much credit for promotion — no one is talking about this, and no one gives a damn.
Yah, $100 million is “I won the powerball” money.
My job is media research and analysis, and if you just read op-ed pages through the country you would think the stimulus bill was just Satan on skates. The problem is the front page. That’s what people read. The front page on all these papers including the rubiest red America is about what project this was going to fund locally and how many jobs it meant.
You aren’t going to get anywhere trying to make Americans understand that $100 million is a wipe your ass figure at this point. It’s not to them.
Symbolic surely. Let’s wait and see. Symbolic sometimes means window dressing, and other times means a first step. Either way, it’s the right way to go.
Yeah, but wastefulness is a culture. If you want to change the culture you have to start somewhere. Looks to me like he’s starting on his own branch first, so that when he starts making calls to tighten budgets elsewhere, they don’t say, “well, what about you?”
Stupid? Because the stimulus is $700 billion?
The campaign ads write themselves: Obama cut wasteful government spending in Washington and directed stimulus money to rebuilding your community.
He can do this every few months for the next 3 years. There’s plenty of bloat in government, especially DHS.
The Cat Who Would Be Tunch
The problem is that $100 million might as well be a rounding error considering the multibillion dollar budgets for each of the cabinet members’ departments.
I’m no expert on how this will be viewed by the public at large. But the way I look at it, people must realize that $100 million, which a considerable sum for an individual or even a family to have, is just a ridiculously miniscule amount when compared to the hundreds of billions the government spends. Put it another way, I think it’s hard for people to consider a spending cut that’s a fraction of a percent of the government budget to be substantial. This is while people themselves are making cuts on the order of 20-40% in the last two quarters.
But hey, I could be wrong.
How is this a mistake? Simply because its not enough? Or because they announced it? Im not seeing mistake anywhere here (nor am I seeing WIN, mind you).
My take is he is publicly training his senior management team. He is telling them, and the shareholders (us), that he expects them to become budget managers as well.
He’s putting them through an exercise to get it in their head that their job is to manage, and do so effectively, efficiently and leanely as possible.
Sure, this is no grand achievement, but 90% of the what the Pres does is mundane management. Im glad to see him put this out in public. Hopefully big dollars come later, but this is a good start.
And when was the last time you saw a Pres do anything like this? Seriously? So why the fainting spell? Its a non issue.
Comrade grumpy realist
Given the conniption fits the wingnuts are having any time Obama does anything, I figure this is just one more step in The Great One’s plan to get them turned permanently into windmills, arms flailing away forever.
Then we’ll just hook them up to energy generators and declare energy independence.
(I figure that Rush and the dittohead population could provide several gigawatts alone.)
Not stupid, I think, because the key is that they all had to do it together. They had to work together to decide what to cut, and he started with a small number, so that if they couldn’t find that much to agree on it would be so embarrassing as to be shaming, but I think it’s practice. A team building exercise. Look, it’s better than trust falls.
I’m not disputing that. People don’t know what the hell a billion or a million is. The GOP has been exploiting this for decades when it comes to the budget. John McCain just ran an anti-earmark campaign for president involving $1 million dollar outlays in the federal budget and apparently over 40% of the population found that credible.
Run a survey and ask people which is more $100 million or $7 billion and I bet you would be shocked. Among people who know better, I bet you get a suprising number of people who don’t understand how big that gap is.
GregB Formerly GSD
But Tom Delay told us that after 6 years of GOP rule there was NO fat left in the government to cut!
And the budget is also largely out of their control. Gates could easily just say ‘F22 – gone!’ and hit the $100M, but he’s not allowed to do that. They only have discretionary dollars to work with, and I’m guessing they don’t have a whole lot of those.
@The Cat Who Would Be Tunch: people must realize that $100 million, which a considerable sum for an individual or even a family to have, is just a ridiculously miniscule amount when compared to the hundreds of billions the government spends.
If the public in general had any idea what the difference was between a million and a billion, the Redoublechins would never have gotten us into this mess.
I remember when $100 million was a lot of money.
Oh wait, it still is!
JFCNTZYM, don’t listen to the countertaunts of the GOP, John.
A few million here, a few million there, pretty soon we’re talking some real money there.
Actually he picked himself for VP. I’m sure the deliberation with himself went something like this.
Cheney: Bush is a dolt and will do anything I say.
The Other Cheney: We should be VP then.
Cheney: Ok let’s pretend to interview others so it doesn’t look like I’m going to pick myself.
The Other Cheney: Good idea, is Dan Quayle still around?
And this is why you are no expert on the public at large.
Obama has just gotten the GOP to come out AGAINST trimming waste in government.
I have to admire their integrity for not disappearing the thing. You’d think it was straight out of the Onion.
To me it looks like Obama intends to get every GOP babbler on camera arguing against everything they claim to stand for.
I half-seriously expect Obama to introduce a “no puppy kicking” rule just to get the Right to insist on kicking puppies as their god given right.
They at least know it has something to do with Jesus weeping, or how many seconds since he wept, or something like that.
I’m still waiting for Al Gore’s next book, “An Inconvenient Fall: Why jumping off the tenth floor is bad for you”. 90% of the global warming denialists would be dead within a year.
The Cat Who Would Be Tunch
To me, that sounds like the GOP is complaining that the trimming of wasteful government spending isn’t *nearly enough* which is very different from the GOP being against wasteful spending.
Thanks for that linda. The more I think about it, there are logos and seals everywhere. I can imagine them special ordering rugs and carpeting, hand towels and underwear with the emblems on them.
Looks like we need a war on logos. Or maybe a new cabinet position to reign in out of control logo-ing: Secretary of Logo and Seal Approvals and Acquisitions. Ha!
Naomi Klein, Secretary?
Perhaps, but it’s a weaker argument than the one the GOP was making before. (Not to mention that Obama looks good for making the gesture, while the GOP looks petty for complaining about it.)
That is all kinds of win (or loss depending on what you think is funny)
Meh. Much ado about nothing. Within 48 hours: a) the Republicans will have moved on to their new outrage du jour, and b) 99% of the population will have either forgotten this or never heard about it in the first place.
Barring unforeseen cataclysms, the next two election cycles are about the “economy” (or, more accurately, voters pocketbooks). Everything else is just a way to pass the time…
I like the fact he’s doing this ONLY because it sends a message he takes waste seriously.
Not a bad thing to do regardless of the amount of money we are discussing.
Yeah, I don’t see the big deal. It can’t hurt, can it?
Since I work in government, I have no doubt that in many valid, worthwhile budgets is not 100 but probably 200$ billion in fat. You wouldn’t understand until you’ve been there. It’s like they want to save the tree by cutting down the forest. Why spend more than you must?
Sign me up as another one who a) doesn’t see a problem with this, b) imagine most other people won’t have a problem with this and c) suspect that this will fail as an effective right-wing talking point. I think most people will recognize this act as unrelated to the stimulus, and meant as a commitment to encourage a smaller/more efficient federal bureaucracy. Republicans, pundits, and 24-hour news talking heads will come across as a bit ridiculous if they argue against Obama encouraging cost-saving and efficiency in the federal government. Though I am sure the Teabagerati will see this act as yet more evidence of our once proud country’s descent into the cesspool that is leftist marxist euro-islamic secular socialist fascism (or leftmarxoeuroislamosecsocafacism for short).
@Ruemara: When I was in the Air Force, all I wanted was a stack of pink slips and I woulda worked some serious overtime. I worked in a group of 8 people with a handful of part-time technical people. Program manager asks for another person, and management comes back and says that there are the equivalent of over 200 people charging full time to our program, so sorry. Program manager retired as a Lt. Col., that was his destiny no matter what he did. He should have made them change the charge number and had everyone call him for the new one.
I will be smiling for life if they discover that the new energy-efficient car fleet the nutters are complaining about turns out to save $100 million.
Honestly, why am I seeing Dick Cheney on my teevee? I can put up with the tea parties and all the other silly bullshit, but please, just no.
Brain damage. It’s a terrible thing.
We’re pissing away 1.4 trillion dollars per year on a grossly dysfunctional U.S. military, broadly defined to include the VA, veterans’ pensions, Pentagon “black” projects, DOE defense-related programs, black ops, the Iraq & Afghanistan wars, the CIA, NSA and NRO (spy satellites)…and Obama is asking his people to find someplace to cut to save 100 million.
Folks, you could save 100 million just by shutting down the stealth bomber program. One. Fucking. Program. In a military that spends 1.4 trillion per year on wasted bullshit like antiballistic missile systems that don’t work, a bunch of defenseless stealth destroyers no one needs and that are sitting ducks anyway, and Buck Rogers 747-carried laser beam death rays that will serve no purpose unless martians decide to invade.
Just stupid, I don’t know what Obama was thinking either. Republican leaders are right to ridicule him for this, and that might be the first time I have said that in his administration.
OT: More proof that George W. Bush never existed:
Notice that it was Hill who operated a failed strategy. It’s all his fault that North Korea did Bad Things. Next up: how PFC Charles K. Bogle delayed our victory in Iraq by five years.
A debate about nuance and detail is a debate where Democrats have the advantage. Republicans have been polarizing and using broad for-and-against arguments for the past 20 years. If they’re trying to make nuanced arguments about trimming spending at the same time as they decry him as a dictator, I don’t think they come out looking particularly strong. And they can’t continue the attack on this efficiency drive without getting into detailed policy arguments – the kind of argument that Obama loves. There’s an attack for the GOP there, but it’s an attack on a battleground Obama picked.
I don’t think it’s a genius move, but I don’t think it’s a particularly bad move, either.
Could be. But let’s say that in 90 days, they come up with $500 to $600 million. Still symbolic gestures, but now demonstrates a degree of discipline.
And how much is the Congressional budget these days?
It’s a f***ing amazingly awesome idea. It frames the tax debate. Next time the Repukes are arguing in favor of cutting taxes, Obama can say “But I already cut taxes. Twice!” Then the Repukes can try to articulate nuances and subtleties in their charming three-standard-deviations-below-norm IQ way, that it wasn’t enough. It’s a great communications strategy because it will defuse the pasty white fat teabaggers’ argument at the next election. Same reason the pirates thing was a smart move – nobody can accuse him of being soft on national defense issues, and it opens up room to negotiate with North Korea, Iran, Venezuela or other countries the Repukes hate and would never talk to.
don’t bother to make or eat anything else but this (you can drop two egg yolks if it makes you feel better). For people outside the magic circle this is, essentially, Toscannini’s recipe. Seriously burn the caramel or the taste is not as strong as it needs to be.
Burnt Caramel Ice Cream
1 cup sugar, divided
3 tablespoons water
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Pinch of salt
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
Stir 3/4 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar melts. Increase heat to high and boil without stirring until mixture turns dark amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 7 minutes. Immediately add milk (mixture will bubble vigorously). Add cream and salt. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring mixture to boil, stirring to dissolve any caramel bits. Let cool 10 minutes. Whisk yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture. Return mixture to same saucepan. Stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and candy thermometer registers 180°F, about 6 minutes (do not boil). Strain custard into medium bowl. Cover and chill until cold, at least 4 hours. DO AHEAD Custard can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to container; cover and freeze. DO AHEAD Can be made 4 days ahead. Keep frozen.
They probably assumed a lack of standing by the GOP to ridicule, since the only “fiscally conservative” proponents have been raising hissy fits about trivial amounts for years while not doing a thing about the real problems. It’s at least as mavericky and fiscally conservative as anything McCain’s been about.
Doesn’t mean it’s not more than a little ridiculous.
Positivist view: government needs to be picking up demand right now, so serious cuts are a bad idea, whereas marginally picking up the culture and thought process of thrift is good for when it’s time to ease off federal spending.
@John Cole: You can’t miss me if I don’t go away occasionally.
Doesn’t seem any dumber than giving me a refund of $500/12. I thought that was stupid gesture, too. Considering the amount I will receive (no doubt in my unemployment check) is not enough to even finance a trip to the grocery store. I would much rather have that money spent elsewhere it could do more good.
But when I see him trying to repair our relations with other countries throughout the world, I’m not going to nitpick over symbolic gestures towards tantrum-addicted republicans. He’s throwing some peanuts to the squirrels (no disrespect to squirrels intended, as unlike republicans, they *are* cute and also much more self-aware) and moving on to more important things, like saving our reputation throughout the world, creating greater transparency in government and trying to help those of us currently flat on our backs, back onto our feet.
Ooops, that’s $400/12 now, I believe. And didn’t repubes have something to do with taking that number down to $400?
Republicans will have moved on to their new outrage du jour
But they have grown so clockworkian that it’s possible to feed them their outrage du jour. The noise machine that drowns out all substantial debate needs to be burned out and forcing it to handle too much faux-fauxrage might just do it
Another complete improvement over Bush, our supposed “CEO” president.
at that conference, obama said that $100 million gleaned from redundant, inefficient or wasteful spending in existing programs would then be applied to go to healthcare or other priorities in the budget.
how is that tone deaf?
another thing, this is something obama promised he would do during the campaign: ferret out wasteful spending. count this as another campaign promise being fulfilled.
wow, that was a weak piece of hackery from the ap. this counts as reporting?
Well, given the performance of financial and auto industry CEOs these days, Bush certainly did live up to that billing. Destroy everything and make off with a ton of money for his buddies.
I hope Obama doesn’t see himself as a corporate CEO. It’s a horrible model for the President.
I’m not understanding the outrage over this one. It seems to me that if each cabinet head comes up with $100 million apiece in efficiency cuts were talking about a huge reduction in government waste. There are 22 cabinet heads in the Obama administration: 15 heads of the major departments such as State, Defense etc. and seven cabinet level positions such as Vice President, White House Chief of Staff and so on. Now I assume that even the cabinet level positions have their own staffs but even if we exclude them and just count the 15 major departments we’re still talking about a possible $1.5 billion in waste reduction, which to me is not a piddly sum.
By the way: I’m getting pretty disgusted with the way so-called progressives keep getting sucked into the Jedi Mind Tricks of the Right. Every day it seems another progressive is found going off the deep end after a disingenuous media shamelessly parrots another wingnut talking point. Then, that same progressive is forced to walk back their assessments a few days later when the rest of the story is told. I’m pretty sure this will be another instance of that.
The smart thing would be for the Repubs to come to the table with a list of programs and government waste that could increase the $100M mark to something substantial. Of course a 1/3rd of their cuts could be disregarded as policy disputes but perhaps a 1/3rd of their suggestions would make sense. This is the type of debate that I hoped the Republicans would make of these opportunities that Obama keeps raising. Instead of debate we get outrage. I am outraged at the silliness. I am outraged at the triviality. As someone said above $100M is a start. Perhaps with some bipartisan leadership, it could turn it into something else. As I have trimmed my budget at home by cutting cell phone bill $100 per month, move to VOIP instead of legacy phone service $100 per month, switched cable companies $50.00 per month, modified NY Times subscription $25.00 per month, canceled magazine subscriptions $15.00 a month, etc. I have gone down line item by line item. These things add up and I feel like I am accomplishing a few things. This is what I feel Obama is trying to do. Trying to tighten up the ship a little and show that the gov’t can tighten things up as well. Does every government move need to be ginormous? Or can certain moves be empathetic to the situation that many citizens are in right now? Hard to say. But I don’t have a problem with analyzing our spending and cutting waste.
well, malron, if you were referring to john cole, i don’t think he claims to be a progressive. he used to align with republicans. i think he’s an independent now.
@Unabogie: That’s like saying “FDR shoulda cut all those ditch digging/refilling jobs outta the new-deal, how wasteful and inefficient.” When the point wasn’t all those ditches that needed to be dug/filled just that people needed work. Of course I think we can find better things to spend this money on than ditches but if a few hundred million here and there goes to pie-in-the-sky scientific research or something else the right finds “wasteful” well, so?
It’s absolute genius to stir up the foxwaves with this sort of thing. I hope Obama does it every other week.
Just because there is 100 million in each department that can be ‘cut’ that 100 million won’t be spent, it may just be spent more effectively.
@wilfred: Well played, sir.
I don’t necessarily think this is part of some Xanatos Gambit of Obama’s, but I really don’t see how this is stupid or boneheaded. If Obama had gone in and said, “okay, it’s up to you to fix the deficit, go in and find $100M to cut”, then yeah–I’d say that’s pretty fucking stupid. But he didn’t, so I don’t know why people are acting as if this is the beginning and end of Obama’s plan for the budget.
If I go in today and ask everyone on my team to try to turn off their monitors and cut down on how much stuff they print, no, that’s not going to save the Earth. But it can’t hurt either, and might do some good, so why bitch?
From the peanut gallery of me: I think this is neither symbolic nor an “act” in and of itself; I believe it a political manoeuvre. I have no serious evidence to base this upon, with the exception that throughout the campaign, Obama showed a real (and largely unnoticed) knack for putting something out there with the intent of having everyone, especially opponents, “out” themselves over it. He may have done it for representational reasons, but only as an aside … one that people would also debate, as here.
So, my guess is that he’s effectively started a public wildfire discourse on what to cut and how by using this enormous pittance of a sum as the spark.
I wonder if this is smarter than you think.
1) To most of us, $100M is a lot of money. Yes, we know it’s a tiny fraction of Federal spending…but, you know, it’s still a lot of money.
2) On top of that, given that Obama’s people have shown evidence of the past of being pretty smart, perhaps they anticipated the storm of derision from the Republic congressmen and pundits. Hoots and howls about how $100M is only a minuscule fraction of a part of what the Evil Guvvmint spends. There’s sure to be quite a bit of noise from the right on this point, how risible and trivial a mere $100M is.
3) Of course, these same Republic party pundits can be counted on, within days or weeks, to be publicly expressing their utter outrage that the Evil Guvvmint is wasting huge amounts of hard-earned taxpayer money on immoral Democratic boondoggles — say, tattoo removal programs, or sexual health education funding, or other such evils. Why, the Obamunist budget may contain proposals to spend $2M, $3M, even $10M on such evil corruptions of the American way.
Oh…and don’t forget, $100M of savings is a trivial rounding error that doesn’t deserve the slightest amount of credit, right?