President Obama's "Half-Way" maths On Deficit Cuts Doesn't Even Come Close

President Obama claims he is meeting Republicans “half-way” on Republican plans to reduce the deficit by $61 billion. “Half-way” is $11 billion ($10.5 billion to be more precise).

My maths strongly suggests the president needs maths lessons.

Please consider Obama offers deeper cuts, appeals for budget deal

President Barack Obama says he’s willing to make deeper spending cuts if Congress can compromise on a budget deal that would end the threat of a government shutdown.

Obama’s appeal for common ground came Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address, but lacked specifics on how to bridge the $50 billion gulf that divides the White House and Democratic budget proposal from the deeper reductions offered by Republicans.

The government is running on a temporary spending bill that expires March 18, so the parties have until then to come up with a plan to pay for the remainder of the budget year through September.

“We need to come together, Democrats and Republicans, around a long-term budget that sacrifices wasteful spending without sacrificing the job-creating investments in our future,” Obama said.

“My administration has already put forward specific cuts that meet congressional Republicans halfway. And I’m prepared to do more,” said Obama.

But the claim that Democrats are meeting Republicans halfway only stands up under the Democratic explanation of the intricate numbers game being played on Capitol Hill.

Obama has threatened to veto that plan, and a Democratic offer of $6.5 billion in cuts — on top of $4 billion already signed into law — restores money the House GOP cuts from education, health and other programs.

“You may have heard President Obama say that we need to make sure ‘we’re living within our means,'” said freshman Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. “He’s right about that. Unfortunately, his budget doesn’t match his words.

Tortured maths

The way that article is worded, I am not even positive the Democrats have offered up even as as the $11 billion I gave them credit for.

I am struggling with the fact that the Democratic proposal “restores money the House GOP cuts from education, health and other programs.”

What kind of tortured logic allows you to claim credit for cuts if you restore money elsewhere?

Let’s dive deeper into one of Obama’s statements: “We need to come together, Democrats and Republicans, around a long-term budget that sacrifices wasteful spending without sacrificing the job-creating investments in our future”

Since when is getting rid of wasteful spending “a sacrifice”?

What Would a Government Shutdown Do?

For all this concern about having a budget in place by March 18 (revised later from March 5 by some sort of emergency funding provision), does it really matter?

CNN Money discusses the setup in Shutdown: What you need to know

Which services would stop?

During the last major shutdown, the government closed 368 National Park Service sites, along with national museums and monuments.

In addition, 200,000 passport applications went unprocessed, and toxic waste cleanup work at 609 sites stopped. The National Institutes of Health stopped accepting new clinical research patients, and services for veterans, including health care, were curtailed.

Work on bankruptcy cases could slow. In the last shutdown, more than 3,500 cases were delayed.

Which services would the government keep running?

Agencies are allowed to perform any operations necessary for the safety of human life and protection of property.

The government would keep essential services — like air traffic control and the national security apparatus — in full operating mode.

Federal workers who provide medical care on the job would be kept on, as well as employees who handle hazardous waste, inspect food, patrol the borders, protect federal property, guard inmates or work in power distribution.

Workers who protect essential elements of the money and banking system would also report to work.

The Postal Service, which is self-funded, will continue to operate.

Preposterous Hype

For all the hype over a shutdown, I fail to see how it would matter much. Republicans should stick to their guns. I assure you the world will not end.

The world did not end in the Clinton administration during five days in November 1995 and another 21 days that ended January 1996.

Indeed the best thing might be for everyone to see how little a “shutdown” would matter.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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