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May 8th, 2009
09:15 AM ET

Dear President Obama #109: The first cut is the deepest ... not.

Reporter's Note: If I were President, I suspect I would be a tyrant; incapable and unwilling to consider the slightest criticism or suggestion. But that’s mainly because I’m already that way. Especially on Mondays. President Barack Obama on the other hand has asked Americans for ideas on how to run the country, and I’m writing a letter a day to the White House.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I’m the first to say that economics is not my long suit. Well, I guess John McCain was the first, so I’ll be the second. I find myself easily baffled by the marching columns of billions and trillions that fill budget plans from margin to margin. I read these things for hour upon hour, scrutinizing analyses, graphs, statistical breakdowns, projections, revenue streams, red-ink rivers, and eventually find myself slack-jawed and glassy-eyed the same as I am every time it occurs to me that Keanu Reeves is not only making a living as an actor, but that some people also think he is actually good at it.

All that said I was nonetheless surprised when you announced these latest budget cuts of yours. I’m surprised because they are so small, I’m kind of wondering why you are doing it at all.

You, and a variety of economists, have argued that if ever there is a time to run up a deficit, it is now. The economy, despite a few encouraging signs, remains in the dumpster and hard core government spending may get money moving once more. Fair enough. Some may disagree, but it’s a legitimate theory of economic stimulus. You’ve already said you’ll bring spending under control later.

And yet, here you are trotting out cuts that altogether amount to less than one percent of the big 3.5 trillion dollar budget you want for next year. Less than one percent, I suspect, is not really going to make any difference to the deficit in a practical sense. After all, it is expected to be roughly four times as big as it was last year. And in a political sense, such small cuts seem less likely to win over more public support than they are to open you up to accusations of grandstanding. Which, as you know, are already coming out of the woods like ticks.

I know you disagree with the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment of how big your deficits will be, but even your estimates show some pretty big ones for a pretty long time.

That’s fine. It’s your choice on how to run the government. But if you appear to be both running toward more spending and away from it all at the same time, I suspect you’ll find yourself making more enemies on both sides of the budget battle. And they won’t help you balance anything.

It’s late. Have to go for a run with the girls, then hit the hay. Call when you can.

Regards,

Tom

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Mary O

    Just a comment from Canada. USA so far has the right to bear arms. But those arms seem to be killing the teens on the street and soo sad. Maybe should rethink that issue, here in Canada is illegal and not so bad

    May 9, 2009 at 8:20 pm |
  2. Mary O

    I would advise the president of USA now he has a bit of a leash on the car plants to maybe put the speedometer on ALL vehicles to 60 or 70 miles per hour. Make make the car only go as fast as the limit, would save ticket money and deaths, Nowhere in the world is 100

    May 9, 2009 at 8:14 pm |
  3. Juanita from Detroit

    Pennies make dollars. We will not come up with 200B in one sweep but if we keep finding pennies pretty soon we'll have 100,200 or even 300B in savings.Patience really is a virtue. You and the Republican party need to try it.

    May 8, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  4. Angelique Reder

    With all of the money our president is throwing out the window to banks, and big business, while inflation keeps our economy from turning back around, I see no chance for any of the reforms that he talks about to really take place.
    Prices and taxes keep going up, taking more and more of the money out of hard working citizen's pockets.
    It's inflation that is killing our economy now, job losses are only compounding the problem. I can't spend if I can't afford to spend, no job, no money, high prices equal less spending. When are companies going to go back to making their profits off of multiple sales, instead of a large profit off of one item, like it used to be? I think we should have let these companies collapse, and let the real American free enterprise base rise up to replace them. As is the American way! Or at least it used to be.

    May 8, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  5. RLWellman

    Have all you Democrats been sleeping the last two years? November of 2007, the stockmarket was at 14,000. Then President Bush said to the Democratic controlled House and Senate that there should be stipulations on loaning money for mortages. Good old Barney Frank said nothing is wrong, Fanny and Freddie are just great, and it has been down hill ever since!

    May 8, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  6. RLWellman

    Baby steps, you have got to be kidding me. President Obama has spent more money the first 60 days of his term than all the other presidents together, from Washington to and including Bush.
    He is not taking baby steps on anything. He has changed the moral attitude of the whole country to "anything goes". He is ruining our country, bowing down to kings, saying sorry for our attitudes, saying national prayer day is for praying to allah.
    We are the United States of America. We were founded by Christians who believed in Capitalism. Why do you think we fought with England? It was because we didn't want Socialism, which is where we are headed now.
    Wake Up America!

    May 8, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  7. Anne of the World

    I'm just so happy to see that Obama is really looking into things and that her appears to be THINKING and TAKING ACTION.

    May 8, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  8. StuckinmoderationMari

    @ Melissa...... Kudos, on a comment well said. I agree ....... baby steps.

    President Obama has been in office a little over a 100 days........ it took Bush ......... EIGHT ....... years to create this disaster!

    Patience is a virtue. And hope trumps fear every time!

    May 8, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  9. Melissa

    You do understand that Obama said this is just the beginning right? And $17 billion is alot of money, dear.

    You Republicans never cease to amaze me with your "we want it all right this second" mentality.

    What has happened in this world that you would think that everything would happen all in one second? Didn't your mother ever teach you about patience?

    This President has moved faster than any President in history to accomplish tasks but not everything will happen overnight. If it were a Republican President, you'd still have the same problem because the government is a very slow moving machine that doesn't act fast even in life or death situations (remember Katrina?).

    This President has been in office three months. Thats it. It took Bush 8 years to destroy the economy and the country's world wide reputation. Why would you expect an overnight turn around?

    Baby steps. Thats how the government works.

    May 8, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  10. Inflation

    My dad will still pick up a penny when he finds one. Even though the value is next to nothing, he points out it's money and even a penny adds up. I think it's good the President is saving pennies because they turn into dollars over time. If not with the pennies, then at what point are budget cuts "worth it"? When I was in the military, I had the opportunity to work temporarily in a supply store while waiting for my class to begin. It was at the end of the fiscal year. I was simply amazed to see the flood of people coming in from various units to spend all the left over money they had in their budget on some of the dumbest things. I asked one of the people who worked there what it was about and they said, "They're afraid if they don't spend it, they won't get it next year." That's the attitude for most recipients of government funding. "We don't need it, but we're going to spend it anyway so we make sure we continue to get the same amount (we could do without)". They say necessity is the mother of invention. I would bet if you cut every budget in half, they would come up with innovative ways of working with what they've got. However, I'd be happy to see even $1M cut from the budget. That's one million we don't owe.

    May 8, 2009 at 9:33 am |