Tim Geithner and the Return of Moon-Yogurt Accounting

Guy Benson
Posted: Dec 03, 2012 11:38 AM

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has had a rough few days.  Late last week, Sen. Mitch McConnell laughed in his face when he presented President Obama's breathtaking fiscal cliff "deal" -- which raises taxes by $1.6 trillion, abolishes the debt limit (!), spends tens of billions on a new stimulus (!!), and offers no specific or guaranteed spending reductions to speak of.  Then Geithner appeared on Fox News Sunday to defend the proposal, and things went...not so well.  When host Chris Wallace pilloried his claim of illusory "savings" on war spending, Geithner was flummoxed (via Jim Hoft):

Geithner's unfocused sputtering betrayed his realization that Wallace had him dead-to-rights on Democrats' favorite budget gimmick to end all budget gimmicks.  The president has repeatedly reminded Americans that he's been winding down two wars, from surge-level peaks to post-combat status -- popular decisions among a war-weary public.  He's been promising to do so since he first started running for president in 2007, as a matter of foreign policy.  But absolutely nobody has been proposing continuing both wars in perpetuity, especially not at increased troop levels.  So the president's so-called plan would secure "savings" by not appropriating funds for tasks that do not require the spending in the first place because they don't exist in reality.  During the latest round of budget debates, Paul Ryan ridiculed this dishonest approach by memorably introducing concept of moon yogurt accounting:

Obama's big idea to avert the fiscal cliff -- and the double-dip recession it could very well precipitate, according to the CBO -- is to massively hike taxes, and spend more money we don't have.  His vacuous nod to "balance" involves zero detailed changes to entitlements or real spending cuts.  But hey, at least he's "saving" us trillions by not green-lighting a federal program to cover the moon in yogurt, right?  Maybe he can incorporate this bold non-proposal into his stump speech, because he's still campaigning:

President Obama made a campaign-style foray on Friday to a toy factory in this Philadelphia suburb to rally the public behind his plan to increase taxes on the wealthy while casting Republicans in Congress as modern-day Scrooges ... Mr. Obama’s trip here was his first return to the road during a high-stakes effort to outflank his opponents on Capitol Hill in the looming crisis over the nation’s finances. Rather than just sit down and negotiate with Congressional leaders, as he tried in the past to his disappointment, the president is pursuing a dual-track strategy that involves concentrating as much public pressure on lawmakers as possible even as his aides make the rounds on Capitol Hill.  

A fish swims, a bird flies, and a Barack Obama campaigns.  Who wants to endure the difficult work of governance and negotiation when you can run around the country stumping to defeat your political opponents?  Keep those emails rolling, Stephanie.  That'll save the country.*

*Reminder: Most Democrats' preferred tax increases on "the rich" would cover, at best, $50-to-$80 billion of our titanic annual deficits, and would cost the US economy an estimated 700,000 jobs.  Obama's "fairness" fetish would fund the federal government for a grand total of eight days.