IMAGINE you had a dear friend with a huge family and lots of responsibilities. For three years in a row, this friend blithely spent 40 percent more than he earned, and more and more of his household budget was going solely to pay the interest and only the interest on his credit-card debt, his car loan and his mortgage. His credit rating was plunging, and many of his family members were deeply worried about the future.
What would you do if you were a close friend of this individual? There is a good chance you'd gather a group of those close to him and stage an intervention. If you don't change the arc of his life, bad things are going to happen, and not just to him but to his family.
But what do you do if this individual is the president, and the family he has great responsibility for is the United States of America?
This analogy comes to mind after a series of reports giving inside details on the recent “fiscal cliff” negotiations. All indicated Barack Obama has no intention of seeking broad spending cuts going forward as part of any grand bargain in which Republicans accept higher taxes and Democrats accept leaner government. While the president is interested in revising the formulas that determine automatic annual cost-of-living increases for the tens of millions of Americans receiving entitlements — to make the formulas more accurate and less costly — that appears to be his sole constructive contribution to the spending side of the live-within-our-means policy debate.
Instead, according to House Speaker John Boehner, Obama told him during budget negotiations that “we don't have a spending problem,” just a problem with health-care costs. When Boehner repeatedly continued to cite spending as a huge problem, according to an interview the speaker gave The Wall Street Journal, our annoyed president said, “I'm getting tired of hearing you say that.”
The White House has not challenged Boehner's recollections.
In case you had any doubt, the numbers don't come close to backing Obama up. Discretionary domestic spending — not including Medicare and Medicaid — is up more than 50 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars since 2001, according to an Oregon State University study of official Office of Management and Budget data.
And when the president won re-election two months ago, he wasn't blithe at all about heavy spending. Instead, Obama repeatedly stressed that he had a “specific” blueprint to cut $4 trillion in spending in coming years, a plan that was built on an appreciation of “math, common sense and our history.”
Evidently, that was then, this is now.
But math is not on the side of the president. Nor is common sense. And our nation is imperiled if Barack Obama thinks American history makes the case for the federal government having huge annual budget imbalances for as far as the eye can see.
For the good of the nation, it's time for an intervention by responsible Democratic leaders. Former President Bill Clinton, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are our nominees. The head of our national household needs some tough love — and the rest of us need reassurance.
— San Diego Union Tribune