Obamateurism of the Day

Barack Obama has decided to get tough on tax evaders, according to the New York Times:

President Obama, cracking down on tax cheats, said on Wednesday that the federal government would no longer award contracts to companies that did not pay their taxes, and called on Congress to pass legislation allowing the Internal Revenue Service to share information about businesses that owe back taxes.

Uh, OK. Let’s put this in perspective. Obama wants to go after what he called “deadbeat companies” … and who will be in charge of going after them? The IRS and the Department of the Treasury, currently run by none other than Tim Geithner — who evaded tens of thousands of dollars in taxes (and he wasn’t the only tax evader Obama tried to appoint, either). Even beyond Geither’s tax evasion, Geithner also has a money-counting problem.

And what great haul will this new initiative mean for Treasury? Enough to balance the budget? Not exactly:

Mr. Obama used his executive authority to direct the heads of federal agencies to bar “deadbeat companies” from doing business with the government. Studies by the Government Accountability Office have identified tens of thousands of such companies that, collectively, owe more than $5 billion in back taxes, the president said.

“In a time of great need, when our families and our nation are finding it necessary to tighten our belts and be more responsible with how we spend our money, we can’t afford to waste taxpayer dollars,” Mr. Obama said. “And we especially can’t afford to let companies game the system.”

Now, I’m not going to complain about getting tough with tax cheats (although Obama seems belatedly appalled by them), and five billion dollars is a significant amount of money. However, in terms of “wast[ing] taxpayer dollars,” Obama spent over 15o times that amount on Porkulus with the promise that it would keep the unemployment rate below 8%.  Obama’s budget director underestimated his ten-year deficit projections based on the White House spending proposals by 440 times that amount ($2.2 trillion).

So instead of holding press conferences to herald the recovery of 0.3% of all income-tax revenue expected in 2010 while blowing up federal spending by more than a third of the same level of revenue, maybe he’d be better off focusing on the latter and quit wasting our time in attempting to distract us with the former.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!