Is Obama’s Spending Freeze Pandering to Conservatives?
January 26, 2010
(ChattahBox)—Faced with taxpayer anger over government spending, a record deficit and a double-digit jobless rate, President Obama will propose what officials are calling, a three-year spending freeze on non-security discretionary spending. Progressive critics of a spending freeze are condemning the proposal as pandering to conservatism. But the spending freeze will be more of a surgical cutting of wasteful government spending, according to Jared Bernstein, chief economist and economic policy adviser to Vice President Biden, who appeared on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow’s show last night. “There’s going to be no stupid Hooverism around here,” declared Bernstein in response to Maddow’s criticism of the spending freeze proposal, as “completely insane.” Somehow, the spending freeze will co-exist with additional spending for job growth and programs to boost the stagnant economy. And that seemingly counterintuitive proposal by the White House is making progressive heads explode, while Republicans scoff at the spending freeze, saying it doesn’t go far enough.
So, what is President Obama to do? Stand firm, that’s what. If his advisers can find ways to reduce wasteful federal spending, while still investing in job growth, health care reform, and green technology, more power to them. Progressives will eventually see the benefits, both politically and fiscally from a “surgical” spending freeze and Republicans will dump on Obama and the Democrats no matter what. So the GOP loud mouths, who want Obama and the country to fail, can be ignored, because they removed themselves from the business of legislating and governing a long time ago, when they became the obstructionist Party of No, with no ideas and no meaningful solutions for America.
President Obama plans to explain the proposed three-year spending freeze to the American people, during his State of the Union Address on Wednesday night, along with new tax-cut initiatives to ease the burdens on the middle class. According to White House sources, the spending-freeze proposal would save about $250 billion over ten-years and reduce the deficit by $10 billion to $15 billion in 2011, when the freeze will take effect.
Obama’s spending freeze initiative seek to create a leaner and meaner federal budget. “We are going to have to be serious about the deficit in ways that we haven’t been before,” Obama told ABC News. “We need a smarter government, not a bigger government, not a smaller government, we need a smarter government. And we don’t have one right now.”
The Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and some international programs would be exempt from the freeze. And other departments, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Commerce, Interior and Justice Departments would be subjected to a spending freeze.
The spending freeze would be imposed surgically, with some departments receiving a spending increase. According to White House officials, the freeze, in reality, is more of a cut in spending after inflation is considered.
President Obama’s spending freeze plan needs approval of Congress. After much political grandstanding by Republicans and criticism by some Democrats, some sort of spending-cut measure will most likely pass together with a comprehensive jobs bill.
Watch Rachel Maddow’s criticism of the spending freeze, while interviewing Jared Bernstein: