Obama whines: How come 1% in earmarks is a lot but 1% in budget cuts isn’t?

posted at 8:57 pm on May 14, 2009 by Allahpundit

Tapper calls this an “interesting point,” which I assume is his polite euphemism for “moronic.”

“I just want to make a little commentary about the media here, if you don’t mind,” Mr. Obama said this afternoon in Rio Rancho, NM, at a town hall meeting on credit card reform.

“When Congress included in last year’s budget a whole bunch of earmarks, you remember there was a week worth of stories about how terrible these earmarks were,” the president recounted. “You remember this…a week’s worth of stories: ‘Oh, these earmarks, this is what’s blowing up the deficit, this is terrible,’ blah, blah, blah.”

Continued the president: “And yet, as I said before, that was less than 1 percent of that entire budget that had been signed. When we find $17 billion worth of cuts in programs, what do the same folks say? They say, ‘Oh, that’s nothing.’…That’s not significant. That’s not important.’

“Well, you can’t have it both ways,” the president said. “If those earmarks were important, then this money is important, too.”

Imagine you’re $10,000 in debt and your grand plan for reducing the load is to make one $50 payment. Now imagine that a bank owes you $10,000 and the teller only pays out $9,950 because he decided to pocket $50 of it for himself. That’s the difference, essentially, between budget cuts and earmarks. Earmarks are basically congressional bribes to fundraisers in their home districts: A pol dumps a few million in public money in someone’s lap, that someone dumps a few hundred thousand in private money into the pol’s campaign treasury, and incumbency is assured — sans scrutiny. It’s a specie of (tolerated) corruption, in other words, and as such any amount of it is too much. How is it some moral victory that only one percent or so of last year’s budget went to de facto bribes? Budget cuts, meanwhile, are perfectly legitimate, in which case their significance only really matters relative to the whole. If next year’s budget starts at $5 trillion and The One trims a trillion off in fat, that’s super but we’d still be looking at monster spending that exceeds even this year’s bloat.

Of course, as Tapper does note, he didn’t really “cut” any money at all; he just reallotted it to other programs. Combine that with the fact that the total budget was revised upwards this week by another $89 billion — more than five times the amount of the cuts we’re all supposed to be so impressed with — and the more apt comparison here is between 1% in earmarks and, er, -2% in “cuts.” Good work, Barry.

Update: If you want to know why he’s suddenly resorting to points as desperate as this, it’s because he’s running out of excuses.

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radiofreevillage on May 14, 2009 at 10:05 PM

Your temper tantrums lack zest. Work on it.

Jim Treacher on May 14, 2009 at 11:25 PM

If congress is spending more than it takes in, it’s too much. Obama seems to be saying ‘size matters’.

ThackerAgency on May 14, 2009 at 11:36 PM

Paging the white house math tutor: Please report to the Oval Office…..

TN Mom on May 15, 2009 at 12:22 AM

An incoherent Talking Chimp is still, after all, a Talking Chimp.

mr1216 on May 15, 2009 at 1:10 AM

Dear Mr. Obama — you might not remember your campaign promise to cut earmarks, but we do. Hence the difference in attention. Buck up, get a spine, and stop whining.

LifeTrek on May 15, 2009 at 1:24 AM


I am always so grateful when you show up to share a little bit of your wisdom. Nothing is quite so entertaining as reading the barely coherent thoughts you have about topics you don’t understand.

Mormon Doc on May 15, 2009 at 1:47 AM

From further on in Tapper’s piece:

“I have to say they weren’t as worried when the previous administration was running up and doubling our national debt…”

Thus proving that, among other blind spots, Obama has no sense of proportion.

Paul_in_NJ on May 15, 2009 at 7:13 AM

The difference is that any amount of earmarks is wrong and worthy of criticism. Thanks for playing, dummy.

LibTired on May 15, 2009 at 8:37 AM

Hey Village guy, are you complaining that you can’t get an answer? Remember a couple of weeks ago we were all begging what city you would give up if we gave up the Waterboarding treatment? We asked another question from you what would you replace Waterboarding with? You were asked time after time and you failed to give an answer? Pork is something that is spent on by the gov’t that is not needed in negative spending. That is what pork is.

garydt on May 15, 2009 at 9:18 AM

Obama’s making a false comparison here.

I just said in another thread that he’s appallingly dumb, but he’s actually playing on others’ stupidity here.

It’s an apples-oranges comparison, and he knows it. But average Americans will only see it as $1m = $1m, when in this case these two sets of $1m are NOT the same.

It’s slick, and its disingenuous.

He is a moron, but he’s also a sheister.

bluelightbrigade on May 15, 2009 at 9:28 AM

“Well, considering I’ve been to South Dakota and found it to be a sh*thole, I sincerely doubt its usefulness as a poster child for anything other then the beauty of buffaloes in their natural habitat. Well, alright, Mount Rushmore is pretty good, too.

radio freeeee village”

Oh… I don’t know, they throw a little party for a couple of weeks in early August in the southwest part, that I’ll attend of course.

LtE126 on May 15, 2009 at 9:38 AM

radiofreevillage —

I’m not sure why people thought you were wearing a “kick me” sign last night, since it seems to me you were asking a perfectly reasonable question.

I think your question arises because of a lack of clarity in frequently used terms. Earmarks are a special kind of pork. Earmarks are a small part of the budget in absolute terms, but as rockmom and others have pointed out produce systemic effects out of proportion to their size.

Earmarks are sort of cut-and-dried from a definitional standpoint (there is, or should be, a specific reference to legislative procedure — circumventing hearings or subcommittee votes to go straight into a bill, for example, whereas any request for funds would normally go from the clerk to a committee of relevant jurisdiction back to the whole) whereas pork is bit more subjective — it might still reflect something that departs greatly from “promoting the general welfare” but could even receive a majority of votes throughout the normal legislative process (perhaps through logrolling or other tactics).

Let me say that I agree completely with the point you were making about pork (with the fuels you brought up as an example) being a larger proportion of the budget than commonly argued. And I also agree with the point I think you were making, that if we consider the broader definition of pork Obama hasn’t really achieved a moral victory at all. Did I get your meaning?

Folks, can we lay off our Russian friend when he’s framing constructive questions?

DrSteve on May 15, 2009 at 9:53 AM

I never ever thought that he could be so wrong on every single issue. It is like a 5 yr old when you tell them not to do something they have to try it. Sorry to the 5yr old kids that listen.

Tremmy on May 15, 2009 at 10:20 AM

I’m stuck on the “blah blah blah”. For a president to speak that way, is just…..ugh.

capejasmine on May 15, 2009 at 10:42 AM

Well, considering I’ve been to South Dakota and found it to be a sh*thole, I sincerely doubt its usefulness as a poster child for anything other then the beauty of buffaloes in their natural habitat. Well, alright, Mount Rushmore is pretty good, too.

radiofreevillage on May 14, 2009 at 10:41 PM

I will put this as nicely as possible-SD is no $hithole-screw you.
I live 30 miles from the SD border in SW ND & it looks the same here as from there.
We happen to think most major cities are $hitholes. And I think there’s a good reason for that considering that we in ND & SD are being rules from the citified roosts of blueness called Sioux Falls, Fargo, etc…
Cities tend to harbor Dems & other socialist-minded people who don’t know their a$$ from a hole in the ground bcs they’ve never had to actually produce much of anything through life & death AKA living on the land.
This daily life & death experience we get from living off the land tends to make us a little conservative AKA based in reality.
So before you go foul mouthing where some of us choose to live so that we can PRODUCE THE FOOD YOU EAT, perhaps you ought to think a little.

Badger40 on May 15, 2009 at 11:59 AM

I sincerely doubt its usefulness as a poster child for anything other then the beauty of buffaloes in their natural habitat.
radiofreevillage on May 14, 2009 at 10:41 PM

Let me respond to this in particular AGAIN:
Some of us choose to live in these places so that we can PRODUCE THE FOOD YOU EAT.
Get it?

Badger40 on May 15, 2009 at 12:04 PM