Patterico's Pontifications


Republicans Are Losing the Spending Argument — Only with Big Media’s Thumb on the Scale

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:17 am

Chris Cilizza and Aaron Blake at the Washington Post say Republicans are losing the spending argument:

While Obama’s numbers aren’t stellar on that same spending question — 52 percent disapproval — he is in considerably stronger shape than his Republican adversaries as Washington braces for the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts known as the sequester to take effect on Friday.

Where to start?

First, the idea that “$1.2 trillion in automatic cuts” is going to “take effect Friday” is bold spin, and that’s being very kind. That’s $1.2 trillion over ten years, and I bet you a year’s salary it will never ever happen. This year’s chunk is an $85 billion “cut” that is not really a cut but an increase in spending over last year — just $85 billion less than their request — a request that one assumes was inflated to begin with, since the Administration knew automatic cuts were coming. Yet the press uncritically reports it as a cut, and uncritically reports the parade of horribles that Obama says is totally unavoidable. Illegal immigrants are released, and we are promised that flight delays and uninspected meat are on the horizon.

How did they ever make do last year with less money than they are getting this year? Answer: the parade of horribles is manufactured and phony. Big Media won’t tell you that. I will.

Second, the public is being presented with a false dichotomy in the polls: do you “blame” Congressional Republicans or Obama? As if Senate Democrats don’t exist. Congressonal Republicans have passed alternatives. Senate Democrats won’t.

Third, “blame”? As if it’s assumed this is the Bad Thing that Obama claims it is.

Fourth, who is questioning the way Obama is responding to this? While seemingly essential services like air traffic controllers are going to be sent home, how many nonessential union cronies will fritter away the taxpayers’ money? How much more nonsense will we be continuing to fund? Who is asking?

In 2008, Obama and McCain discussed an across-the-board spending freeze, and Obama said you couldn’t do that, because it was using a hatchet where a scalpel was needed:

Sen. John McCain proposed a possible spending freeze on virtually every federal program except the Department of Defense, for veterans and entitlement programs in a presidential debate with rival Barack Obama Friday night. Obama countered that approach is too broad-based, saying it was the equivalent of “using a hatchet where you need a scalpel.”

Where is the scalpel today? It sure looks like a small increase in spending is being responded to with a hatchet. Not that Big Media is explaining this.

42 Responses to “Republicans Are Losing the Spending Argument — Only with Big Media’s Thumb on the Scale”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. the sequester is only a bit larger than the porky porky chris christie spending orgy they all just passed

    happyfeet (e08251)

  3. All the repubs sane people need to win the debate is to show that illustrated pie graph by ramirez.

    If Obama was anything near accurate, looking at past spending we must have just come out of horse and buggy stage about 5 years ago, because we spent a whole lot less just that recently.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  4. Let big media eat cake.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  5. Were people starving in the streets with last year’s budget?

    Never mind, the Dems refuse to actually do a budget.

    JD (b63a52)

  6. None of this will matter. What will matter is lady parts and coolness.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  7. As Rush reported yesterday, only 25% are even following this story, mostly to dispose of moldy vegetables.

    In the days before Xmas he said nearly 80% were following the Cliff story.

    Today, somewhere, I saw latest polling re: Media with 6% saying ‘very reliable’.

    Apart from crime reports national news has lost its audience.

    gary gulrud (dd7d4e)

  8. As incompetent as they are, Republicans deserve to lose. They’re disgusting hacks and the best of them is only a hair better than a leftist.

    creeper (86e23e)

  9. Why do Republicans want to argue with a media that has already made up its mind and doesn’t want to be persuaded? It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing.

    The Republican strategy for the media should be to get in their faces and embarrass them for their stupidity and bias. Challenge each premise and loaded question from the start. If a Republican guest doesn’t get invited back to be a punching bag on another show, it’s no great loss. Bullies don’t like to be challenged.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  10. obamawhore marissa mayer’s yahoo! delivers up this propaganda gem today to the glory of her lord and saviour

    Nobody is arguing that the national debt isn’t big. Sixteen-plus trillion dollars is a lot of money – roughly 102 percent of GDP. But does that mean it’s too big? If we only compare the size of today’s debt with what was owed in the past, $16 trillion seems like a lot. But is that the right way to determine if we should bring the government, and perhaps the country, to a halt by imposing sequestration? I don’t think so.


    The affordability of our national debt is an issue that gets little attention. Fortunately, the Federal Reserve of St. Louis keeps track of how well the economy is handling our debt. It does so in the form of a chart that measures the percent of GDP devoted to paying interest on the nation’s debt. What that chart says is illuminating. According to the Fed, the percent of our nation’s GDP devoted to paying interest on the debt has fallen to its lowest level since 1973.

    it’s not that these fascists are really this stupid

    it’s just that they’re quite certain the rest of us are

    happyfeet (4bf7c2)

  11. The beauty of the Sequester is that Harry Reid can’t stop it.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  12. Lots of good posts today, Patterico. Thanks!

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  13. Editorial in yesterday’s (Wednesday, February 27, 2013) New York Daily News:

    Cut it out, Mr. President

    Visiting a Virginia shipbuilding facility Tuesday, President Obama warned that hundreds of thousands of workers could lose their jobs thanks to spending cuts set to take effect Friday.

    “These cuts are wrong. They’re not smart. They are not fair. They are a self-inflicted wound that doesn’t have to happen,” the President said.

    He was right, and he can stop them or, at least, take charge of a management exercise that blunts the impacts of $85 billion in reductions to everything from air safety to education to homeland security. Plus the Pentagon.

    But Obama refuses to ask Congress for the flexibility to pick and choose how to economize, saying, “there’s no smart way” to save so much money over seven months of the federal fiscal year……

    Read more:

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  14. Not sure this is accurate:

    To begin with: a munchkin (or power gamer, or mini-maxer, or a bunch of terms that cannot be repeated here) is a type of gamer (roleplaying, computer, roleplaying-computer) who looks for loopholes in the rules – because games have rules, and there isn’t a ruleset in the world that cannot be manipulated by somebody with enough motivation/obsession.

    And it turns out that the American Democratic primary system was full of such loopholes, which is why Barack Obama won the nomination in 2008 despite losing almost all the big Democratic primary states (and arguably the popular vote, depending on how you score Michigan).

    [This would maybe be first getting a boost in contributions because he was black, and maybe even getting people to think he would clear the field of all opponents besides Hillary but he could not win himself, and then maybe getting a boost or two, and then the Ted and Caroline Kennedy endorsement, which happened in part because of Caroline’s son, and the caucus states, which came late enough in the primary season that his opponents thought it would all be over by then and so didn’t try, and his social media campaign helped]

    And it also turns out that the intersection of our electoral system with our rapidly-expanding online culture can produce what computer gamers call “exploits:” which is to say, a glitch in the system that gives someone an unintended benefit (if it just crashes the system, it’s a bug).

    Strictly speaking, the system is not designed to elevate a state Senator to the Presidency in five years – for what turned out to be very good reasons – but it can be done.

    The problem, though, is that Barack Obama (and I should note that I am lumping his election team in with him here, as Obama largely does not really have much of an independent personality himself) has what the gaming community calls “mini-maxed” himself.

    Let me explain that one a bit more: lots of video games allow for the player to control a character that gets better at the game as he or she goes through the various game ‘boards.’ Special abilities, improved combat techniques, cool-looking items: if you’re playing a game that is something else besides a straight combat game, you can usually improve how you interact with computer-generated characters (“NPCs”) in the game, or learn how to make your own cool items, or whatever else the game designers thought that you’d like to do.

    Since gamers like to have unique characters (this is very much the young adult male equivalent to playing dress-up with dolls) there’s usually a way to customize your character, which is to say: people get to choose how and where the character improves.

    Mini-maxing is when a player designs a character that is fantastically good at one thing, at the expense of everything else. So you could end up with a character who is, say, obscenely good at hitting things with a sword – but can’t convince a bunch of sailors to drink free beer. The mini-maxer doesn’t mind; he’ll just go around the game trying to resolve as many problems as he can by hitting them with a sword (tabletop gamers – err, “D&D players” – often call this The Gun is My Skill List, although obviously substitute a sword for a gun in the name).

    The problems that the mini-maxer can’t resolve that way he’ll either ignore until later, or else flail about on the screen while hitting the buttons quickly and/or at random (“button-mashing”), in the hopes that eventually the laws of probability will allow him to bull on through anyway.

    And that’s where we are now. Barack Obama knows how to do one thing: elect Barack Obama to public office. And that’s not ‘elect Democrats.’ Or ‘elect liberals.’ Or even ‘elect people that Barack Obama likes.’ It’s just him: his team is trying pretty hard right now to figure out how to use their over-specialized skill more generally, but they don’t have much time to figure it out and the system is actually rigged against them in this case.

    Barack Obama certainly doesn’t know how to govern effectively; take away a Congress that will rubber-stamp the Democratic agenda and he flails about.

    He’s so bad at this, in fact, that when confronted with a situation where all he had to do was do nothing to fulfill a campaign promise (the tax cuts) we somehow ended up with a situation where Obama gave in on 98% of those tax cuts and voluntarily signed up to take the blame for the AMT fix.

    In short: Obama was woefully unprepared for the Presidency, and he hasn’t really spent the last four years trying to catch up. Instead, he goes from situation to situation either trying to recast the problem in ways that he does have some skill in (permanent campaigning for office), or else… flail about on the scene while hitting people’s buttons quickly and/or at random, in the hopes that eventually the laws of probability will allow him to bull on through anyway… – See more at:

    Actually Obama never wanted the 98% of the tax cuts to expire. The promise never was to let all tax cuts expire.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  15. “Munchkin” is a card game from Steve Jackson Games that parodies this.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  16. No, what Obama knows to do, is to destructive to al relevant institutions.

    narciso (3fec35)

  17. Succubus is playing the Media to escape blame for World Depression.

    gary gulrud (dd7d4e)

  18. Obama said whatever the economic statistics will be in the future they would have been x amount better if not for teh sequester.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  19. What argument? There is no effective argument.

    When you say spending the public hears free stuff.

    Amphipolis (d3e04f)

  20. The zipster just murdered at least a dozen strawmen. It’s genocide. Not one “journalist” asked zippy for a couple examples of the loopholes the Republicans refuse to compromise on.

    Amalgamated Cliff Divers, Local 157 (f7d5ba)

  21. The “loopholes” exist. In fact Dave Camp has a whole big list. He’s working on tax reform HR 1.

    The key point is that the Republicans want tax reform to be revenue neutral, and Obama just wants to swallow the loopholes.

    Notice Obama said:

    They’ve allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit.

    The Republicans want to close loopholes – but they don’t want to use the revenue to lower the deficit.

    None of the reporters caught on to this.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  22. Sorry Sammy, Republicans want the ECONOMY to provide this MAGIC REVENUE you Libs keep referring to. Unemployment is much higher and so is spending, since the SOCIOPATH in CHIEF took the THRONE. Millions of unemployed, including those who aren’t COUNTED as unemployed could be employed and contributing. Unfortunately that’s not how the Commie Sociopath in Chief operates.

    gus (694db4)

  23. mostly to dispose of moldy vegetables.

    Sorry. I read that and thought you were talking of the GOP leaadership.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  24. “Obama said whatever the economic statistics will be in the future they would have been x amount better if not for teh sequester.”

    Sammy – Obama played the same game in reverse with the Stimulus. The economy would have been x worse if not for the Stimulus. That turned out to be comedy gold.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  25. Just think how much better the economy would be now if on Jan 20, 2009, we could have put Calvin Coolidge’s corpse behind the desk in the Oval Office.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  26. A f’ing zombie would do better behind that desk.

    SPQR (768505)

  27. 26. A f’ing zombie would do better behind that desk.

    Comment by SPQR (768505) — 3/1/2013 @ 4:27 pm

    Boehner proves you wrong unfortunately.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  28. Those cuts to the increase of spending are really, really gonna hurt, sez the Rethuglican leadership.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  29. Just sayin, wouldn’t it be a nice change if we had a GOP candy-date for Preezy who didn’t openly long to be Ted Kennedy’s best friend?

    Steve57 (60a887)

  30. Steve57 – We have a candidate who wants to be a bottle of scotch?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  31. things I learned on Drudge this week:

    you’re not supposed to have sex on top of the bodies

    happyfeet (4bf7c2)

  32. Steve57 – We have a candidate who wants to be a bottle of scotch?

    Comment by daleyrocks (bf33e9) — 3/1/2013 @ 5:10 pm

    Well, if not that a Delta 88.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  33. you’re not supposed to have sex on top of the bodies

    Comment by happyfeet (4bf7c2) — 3/1/2013 @ 5:23 pm

    You probably shouldn’t oughta have sex on the beach just outside the picture window of the banquet hall where the battlegroup wardroom is having a party.

    Just saying.

    And if you are going to put on a show, try to be inconseqential.

    Don’t be the OIC of the Marine Detachment. And good lord, don’t do it with a married chick. And an Ensign.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  34. An Ensign, by the way, is a junior officer in the Navy. Why you’d want to have one of those along for when you’re getting your brass polished I have no idea.

    Steve57 (60a887)

  35. run for the border
    try tacos de caballo
    at teh Taco Bell

    Colonel Haiku (c6bc80)

  36. y las Nagitas

    Colonel Haiku (c6bc80)

  37. y las Appalupas

    Colonel Haiku (c6bc80)

  38. y Palomino Asada

    Colonel Haiku (c6bc80)

  39. I shall ride off into teh sunset now… adios, amigos!

    Colonel Haiku (c6bc80)

  40. Viva, we ride!

    Steve57 (60a887)

  41. Vamanos!

    Steve57 (60a887)

  42. Alameda County, little corner of the end:

    Like BSE, it only grows.

    gary gulrud (dd7d4e)

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