Unexpectedly Intriguing!
07 March 2011

The Associated Press' Erica Werner quotes President Barack Obama from his weekly radio and Internet address this past weekend:

"We need to come together, Democrats and Republicans, around a long-term budget that sacrifices wasteful spending without sacrificing the job-creating investments in our future," Obama said.

"My administration has already put forward specific cuts that meet congressional Republicans halfway. And I'm prepared to do more," said Obama.

Werner's article confirms that congressional Republicans have so far put forward a proposal for 61 billion dollars worth of spending cuts for the federal government's current 2011 fiscal year. We can determine what half of that amount is by dividing it into two equal parts, which we can do by dividing the number by two:

$61,000,000,000 ÷ 2 = $30,500,000,000

We're showing that math to help the President, because he appears to believe that meeting the congressional Republicans' $61 billion spending cut proposal "halfway" somehow produces a dramatically different number:

Obama has threatened to veto that plan, and a Democratic offer of $6.5 billion in cuts -- on top of $4 billion already signed into law -- restores money the House GOP cuts from education, health and other programs.

Adding the congressional Democrats proposal of $6.5 billion to the already approved $4 billion gives the following result of $10.5 billion:

$6,500,000,000 + $4,000,000,000 = $10,500,000,000

Which, if we subtract that number from the mathematical "halfway" point of the congressional Republicans' proposal, is about $20 billion short of the actual amount of spending cuts it would take for the President to actually achieve a level of cuts "that meet congressional Republicans halfway."

$30,500,000,000 - $10,500,000,000 = $20,000,000,000

With that kind of mathematical innumeracy, perhaps it's no wonder the President believes that his health care reform law will save $500 million dollars, twice! Or that he believes an annual income of $172,000 qualifies an individual as having a "relatively modest" level of income.

Or for that matter, the President's claims the federal government's budget will be in "primary balance", which requires that we ignore the amount of interest that must be paid on the national debt.

In fact, it's exactly this kind of incompetence in money matters that results in the situation depicted in the chart below:

U.S. Zero Deficit Line, 1967-2009

We'll conclude by noting that since the President has either voted in favor of, or has signed off on or otherwise overseen the federal government's spending since 2007, first as a U.S. Senator and then as President, it's perfectly legitimate to hold the President fully accountable for the federal government's unsustainable spending during all that time since.


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