WASHINGTON - President Obama was back on the campaign trail Tuesday, preaching doom and gloom over the approaching budget cuts that will likely take place next month.
If you tuned in late to this daily soap opera, the federal government will begin indiscriminately cutting $85 billion in across- the-board spending reductions on March 1. That's $85 billion out of a monster budget that is fast approaching $4 trillion a year.
Sure, $4 trillion is still a lot of money and one does not have to have a degree in advanced math to understand that $85 billion is a relatively tiny share of that sum.
It isn't at all hard to find $85 billion in budgetary savings in a government the size of ours. We waste much more than that each year through inefficiency, duplication, fraud, theft and mismanagement.
Let's start with $150,000 for Oklahoma's Lake Murray State Park Airport that may have one landing and takeoff a week and often none at all.
Congress could put together a budget tomorrow, using just the budget-savings identified by its auditing arm -- the Government Accountability Office -- that far exceeds this amount.
The president could have called in the leaders of the Congress the day after his inauguration and given them a list of programs that cry out for cuts and ask that they put together their own bill totaling $85 billion in real spending reductions.
That's what Congress has done for more than two and a quarter centuries -- enacting budgets that for most of our history presidents have signed into law.
But this president isn't interested in finding solutions. He is interested in playing the politics of blame and exploiting issues to his own and, ultimately, his party's benefit.
So there was Obama yesterday, jetting off to another costly campaign road show, pounding the Republicans for being the kind of cold, cruel and heartless people who will slash programs needed to defend our country and care for the old, the sick and the poor.
Lifting the art of fear-mongering to a whole new level in presidential demagoguery, he raises the specter of laid off meat inspectors, fewer police officers, untended airport security and delayed cancer research to scare us into submission.
Political combat and playing to our fears instead of our hopes is what Obama does. That's all he knows and that's what he seems to enjoy doing. In his brief residency in the Senate, he wasn't known for reaching across the aisle to get anything done. Quite the contrary, he was out on the political hustling’s, attacking Republicans with relish.
But his trip to Newport News, Va., to highlight the impact the sequester will have on its shipbuilding economy; will not alleviate our fiscal troubles one iota. It won't create a single job or cut one dollar from a swollen, out of control, unsustainable budget.
"This is not time for a roadshow president," House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy lectured Obama at a news conference Monday with other Republican leaders. "This is a time to look for someone who will lead and work with us, because we're willing to work with them to solve America's problems."
The president could have just as easily climbed into his limo for a short drive up to Capitol Hill to suggest that in a government this size, that spends this much money, surely we can easily identify a piddling $85 billion in real budget cuts. I mean, this isn't brain surgery.
Obama maintains the Republicans in the House are the obstacle to any solution to the present impasse. In fact, it is Obama's unreasonable and stubborn insistence that any budget deal must come with tax increases.
He and his party, and their pals in the news media, say the Republicans in Congress are the ones holding up any attempt to avert the budget cuts in order to prevent further tax increases on the rich.
But the GOP's opposition to higher taxes is not about protecting the wealthy, it's about strengthening the U.S. economy which is over- taxed, over-regulated, and under-capitalized.
The president doesn't talk much about our persistently weak, jobless economy, and with good reason. Nearing the end of his first four years in office, the Department of Commerce reported that the economy stopped growing in the last three months of 2012. In fact, the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) actually shrank.
Unemployment is nearly 8 percent and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported just this month that economic growth will remain weak and the jobless rate will hover about where it is now for the rest of the year.
Obama and his economic advisers live in a hermetically sealed world of their own making where raising taxes on income and investments is irrelevant to the economy's ill-health.
Since the Great Depression, the average length of any recession has been about two years. Obama's weak, sub-par, chronically sluggish economy is entering its fifth year of misery. It should by now be abundantly clear that his big spending, tax hike policies (both real and threatened) and have not worked and aren't going to work.
With far fewer Americans finding full time jobs and thus paying no income taxes, budget deficits have skyrocketed under his presidency. This will be the fifth year when the Obama deficit will still be within the $1 trillion range.
He seems impervious to the ugly reality that taxing ever more capital out of the economy will only weaken it further, worsen the job market and turn the American dream into an unreachable goal for millions of our fellow citizens.
"Instead, he campaigns across the country, painting the dire consequences sequestration will impose if new [tax] revenues are not raised, as he proposes, by limiting tax deductions benefiting the wealthy,” writes University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici.
Republicans have wrongly given him $600 billion in new taxes in the hope that would satisfy him, but now he wants even higher tax rates as the price of signing a new budget deal.
House Republicans have proposed giving the Obama administration more flexibility in implementing the budget cuts and where they will fall, but he isn't buying into that.
He prefers playing the hand he has: blaming the GOP for whatever happens next, and remaining an impassive bystander who no longer takes responsibility for the office he holds.