Morning Bell: The President Set the Tone on Spending

Conn Carroll /

Yesterday, President Barack Obama ordered his cabinet to identify and shave a collective $100 million in administrative costs from their budgets. This is the same President Barack Obama who berated conservatives earlier this year at a House Democrat resort retreat for not supporting his $787 billion stimulus package incredulously asking, “What do you think a stimulus is? It’s spending — that’s the whole point! Seriously.” Seriously Mr. President. You can’t have it both ways. Either massive government deficit spending is our only economic salvation or it isn’t. Consider the list of cuts the White House was touting yesterday.

The Department of Veterans Affairs canceled or delayed 26 conferences (lost jobs for the airline, rental car, food service, and hotel industries). The Education Department is no longer allowing employees to have both laptop and desktop computers (lost jobs for retail and technology manufacturing companies). The Agriculture Department is terminating leases and doing more to verify the income of recipients of farm subsidies (lost jobs for agriculture). And the Department of Homeland Security is going to start buying its office supplies in bulk (lost jobs for Office Depot).

Don’t get us wrong: we do not believe government deficit spending is the answer for our economic crisis. But the Obama administration clearly does. In their three short months in office the Obama administration has pushed through an unprecedented explosion of government spending. The President’s $787 billion stimulus package is so large it even included $84 million alone for a website that is likely to fail to meet transparency expectations. Government agencies simply are not equipped or staffed to handle the rapid and massive explosion in spending mandated by the stimulus. As a result, the man Obama appointed to oversee stimulus spending, Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RAT board) Inspector General Earl Devaney, noted that the inevitable fraud and waste from spending so much money so fast would cost taxpayers $55 billion: “The first time I took a pencil and figured that out, I was horrified to see it was $55 billion,” Devaney said.