My local paper

Brendan points out this editorial in yesterday’s Daily News:

HERE’S SOMETHING IMPORTANT to know about President Obama’s 2012 budget: It has absolutely no chance of passing.

But his proposal – all 2,304 pages of it – tells a sad tale. In fact, it’s pretty much a horror story.

Remember, even when the president had an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress to work with, he couldn’t get his fiscal 2011 budget through. The federal government is operating only because Congress passed a “continuing resolution” (CR) in December. It’s due to expire March 4.

And House Republicans are demanding $100 billion in federal spending cuts this year in exchange for passing another CR to keep the government open. If they don’t get what they want – and Obama has threatened to veto the CR because the cuts are too deep – Republicans say they will shut government down.

Many of the Republican proposals are quite insane- slashing community policing, NASA, Amtrak, and research into alternative energy. In addition, the cuts would reduce food-safety inspections and weaken protections for clean drinking water. A proposed $1.7 billion cut to the Social Security Administration would shut it for 20 days, meaning the checks wouldn’t be mailed. Especially telling: a proposed $747 million cut to the Women, Infant and Children program that provides nutritional food to pregnant women. Now there’s an example of conservatives’ fierce love for the unborn.

It is against this frenzied anti-government backdrop that Obama unveiled his proposed budget, and the theme couldn’t be clearer: Just a few weeks after extending tax cuts for rich people – adding $868 billion to the deficit – Obama wants to get it back from poor people.

The former community organizer wants to halve community-service block grants. In the midst of a brutal winter that saw a dramatic rise in the number of Americans (now 8.3 million) needing help to heat their homes, he asks for a 50 percent cut in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Since these cuts wouldn’t make much of a dent in the deficit, it looks as if the administration just wants to show how willing it is to “share the sacrifice.” (Of course, Sasha and Malia won’t be shivering around a space heater if the temperature dips.).

Even worse, by buying into the notion that government spending is the culprit, Obama could make it more difficult to get the economy moving again – and more difficult for him politically.

Except for investments in education and infrastructure, his proposal doesn’t do much to create jobs. In fact, focusing on the deficit could kill even more jobs.

If the Republicans’ $100 billion in cuts were to be enacted, 650,000 government jobs would be lost, according to the Washington Post. Another 325,000 workers could be laid off because of the “collateral damage” that would occur from unemployed government workers’ buying fewer things.

If fewer people buy things, businesses have no reason to expand or hire new workers. Unemployed people pay less in income taxes, further reducing revenue, and increasing the deficit.

So both Republicans and Democrats are pushing plans that both hurt the economy and don’t do much to reduce the deficit. If this were a film script, it would be called “Dumb and Dumber.”