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Brother, can you spare $100 million?

Created on April 24, 2009

Brother, can you spare $100 million?

Can $100 Million Tame the Tempest of Taxpayers' Tea Parties?

By Ken McIntyre

Six days after hundreds of thousands of taxpayers protested more and more deficit spending to right the economy, President Barack Obama publicly ordered $100 million in program cuts from his Cabinet secretaries.

That $100 million may sound like a lot of dough to the average Joe. To the casual ear, maybe it sounds like more than $10 billion or $1 trillion. Actually, $100 million might as well be nothing next to federal spending exploding well past $3.5 trillion.

Other voices helped Americans get a fix on the president"s ballyhooed $100 million nip and tuck:

In the first Cabinet meeting of his administration April 20, President Obama acknowledged $100 million is "a drop in the bucket." He said he has to overcome a "confidence gap" with the American public. But Obama stood by massive amounts of new government spending as "the right thing to do" to resolve the economic crisis.

The federal deficit for March alone was $192.3 billion, the Associated Press reported, and $100 million would represent a minuscule portion of that sum, roughly one-twentieth of 1 percent. In February, Obama proposed a $3.6 trillion budget for fiscal year 2010, which would set in motion -- as of Oct. 1 -- $9.3 trillion in deficits over the next decade.

Heritage"s expert on the federal budget, Brian Riedl, suggests the president close the confidence gap by showing he understands the value of frugality and lower taxes over "stimulus" spending to lift the economy out of recession:

"If government spending could guarantee economic growth, then why stop at $800 billion? Why not borrow and spend $800 trillion?" Riedl writes. "Shouldn't big government countries like France and Germany be the wealthiest in the world? And shouldn't President Bush's spending spree have brought economic nirvana? In reality, the $800 billion stimulus bill weakens the economy.

"It takes spending power away from families and entrepreneurs and puts it in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats. It will raise interest rates, lengthening the recession. And worst of all," Riedl concludes, "it dumps $9,400 per household of new debt into the laps of our children and grandchildren."