Fiscal Follies of Obama’s 100 Days

As friends of limited government, we have no use for all this Hundred Days hoopla. We’re repulsed by its historical reference points—one, the 1815 return of the tyrant Napoleon from exile for a final bloody rampage in Europe, and two, the 1933 wave of statist legislation pushed through by a newly-inaugurated Franklin Roosevelt with the effect of prolonging America’s depression.

And looking about us in 2009, we see no cause for celebration in Barack Obama’s fiscally reckless course during his first 100 days, concluding on April 29. We thank John Kartch of Americans for Tax Reform for the following timeline which chronicles the ugly details day by day, starting with these hollow words from the new president’s first moments in office: [more]

Day 1—January 20: In his Inaugural address, President Obama makes a noteworthy commitment to the American taxpayer: “And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.”

Day 7—January 26: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is sworn in by Obama despite having owed more than $40,000 in back taxes and interest.

Day 10—January 30: After a long career working and voting FOR tax increases and working and voting AGAINST tax cuts, Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee Tom Daschle is first reported to have paid over $100,000 in back taxes.

“Make no mistake: Tax cheaters cheat us all. And the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter.” (Sen. Tom Daschle speaking on the Senate floor on May 7, 1998)
[Video]

Day 14—February 2: In order to ensure “What happens in Chicago, stays in Chicago” by preventing corruption and kickbacks arising from the “stimulus” bill, ATR asks each Member of Congress planning to vote for the bill to sign a statement promising that they, their family, and the members of their staff will not personally benefit from the bill. All refuse.

Day 15—February 3: Tom Daschle withdraws his nomination due to tax problems.

Chief Performance Officer-designate Nancy Killefer withdraws her nomination due to tax problems.

Day 16—February 4: On the sixteenth day of his presidency, Obama breaks one of the central promises of his campaign by singing into law a 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco, a hike of 61 cents per pack, which took effect on April 1. Obama promised repeatedly on the campaign trail that he would never raise any form of taxes on those making less than $250,000 per year, for example:

“I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes (September 12, 2008, Dover, NH)
[Transcript] [Video clip]

“No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama’s plan will see one single penny of their tax raised,” Joe Biden said, “whether it’s their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax.”(Joe Biden, Oct. 3, 2008, Vice Presidential Debate, St. Louis, MO)
[Transcript] [Video Clip]

The tax increase falls squarely on the shoulders of the middle- and low-income Americans Obama said he would not raise taxes on: 55 percent of smokers are “working poor”, one in four smokers live below the poverty line, and on average, smokers, whose median income is a little more than $36,000 make about 30 percent less than non-smokers.

Day 21—February 9: Calling for a massive government spending program under the guise of “stimulus” Obama holds his first press conference and fails to provide a single historical example where a government increased spending which led to increased jobs, income, and wealth on any sustainable basis.

Obama also has the audacity to claim the “stimulus” plan is free of pet projects and earmarks:

“What it does not contain, however, is a single pet project, not a single earmark, and it has been stripped of the projects members of both parties found most objectionable.”
[Transcript][Video]

Responding to a reporter’s question as to what specific metric the American people should use to determine whether Obama’s programs are working, Obama replies:

“I think my initial measure of success is creating or saving 4 million jobs.”

(How, exactly, does one measure a “saved” job? See March 4 for details)

Obama promises that the next day “Tim Geithner will be announcing some very clear and specific plans for how we are going to start loosening up credit once again.”

Day 22—February 10: Instead of offering specifics in his testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, Geithner issues vague statements and echoes FDR’s economically paralyzing “bold, persistent experimentation” philosophy:

“We will have to adapt our program as conditions change. We will have to try things we’ve never tried before. We will make mistakes. We will go through periods in which things get worse and progress is uneven or interrupted.”

The Dow falls 380 points.

Day 23 – February 11: Obama speaks to employees of heavy-machinery manufacturer Caterpillar, claiming that the “stimulus” bill would allow the company to hire back many of the employees it had previously laid off.

Day 24—February 12: The day after Obama tells Caterpillar workers the stimulus will save their jobs, the company’s CEO James Owen states “The honest reality is we’re probably going to have more layoffs before we start hiring again.”

Sometime around 10:00 PM: The “Stimulus” conference report is completed behind closed doors. Less than sixteen hours pass before the bill is taken up by the House.

Day 25—Friday, February 13:

2:24 PM: With not a single Member voting for the bill having claimed to have actually read it, the House passes the conference report for H.R.1, the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009”.

5:29 PM: With not a single Member voting for the bill having claimed to have actually read it, the Senate passes the conference report for H.R. 1.

Day 29—February 17: Obama signs the “Stimulus” bill and violates his transparency pledge to the American people that he will allow legislation to be posted online for five full days before signing it.

“No more secrecy. … when there’s a bill that ends up on my desk as president, you, the American voter, will have five days to look online and find out what it is before I sign it, so that you know what your government’s doing.”
(June 22, 2007. Manchester, New Hampshire)
[Transcript] [Video]

The below is copied directly from the Ethics section of BarackObama.com:

Sunlight Before Signing: Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.

Obama also breaks his spending promise:

“So we’re going to have to make some investments but we’ve also got to make spending cuts, and what I’ve proposed—you’ll hear Senator McCain say ‘he’s proposing a whole bunch of new spending’—but, actually, I’m cutting more than I’m spending. So that it will be a net spending cut.” (Oct. 7, 2008. Second Presidential Debate, Nashville, TN)
[Transcript] [Video]

Day 36—February 24: Obama makes his first address to a joint session of Congress and claims he doesn’t believe in “bigger government”:

“As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by President’s Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets, not because I believe in bigger government—I don’t—not because I’m not mindful of the massive debt we’ve inherited—I am.”

Obama again has the audacity to claim the “stimulus” bill contained no earmarks:

“Now, I’m proud that we passed a recovery plan free of earmarks, and I want to pass a budget next year that ensures that each dollar we spend reflects only our most important national priorities.”

Day 38—February 26: Obama releaseshis budget outline which raises taxes on individuals, employers both large and small, and shareholders—while eliminating several energy tax credits.

The budget also calls for a “cap and trade” regime, making an absolute mockery of Obama’s central campaign promise not to raise any form of taxes on those making less than $250,000 per year.

Obama also shatters his campaign promise to enact net spending cuts during his administration:

“So we’re going to have to make some investments but we’ve also got to make spending cuts, and what I’ve proposed—you’ll hear Senator McCain say ‘he’s proposing a whole bunch of new spending’—but, actually, I’m cutting more than I’m spending. So that it will be a net spending cut.” (Oct. 7, 2008. Second Presidential Debate, Nashville, TN)
[Transcript] [Video]

(The Obama FY 2009 budget increases federal spending to 28.5% of GDP, a post World War II high.)

Day 41—March 1: The Obama administration foreshadows another broken promise when Peter Orszag, appearing on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, claims the 8,000 earmarks in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 are “last year’s business. We just need to move on.” The statement by Orszag in not consistent with Obama’s campaign promise made in the first presidential debate:

“And, absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.” (Sept. 26, 2008. First Presidential Debate, Oxford, Miss.)
[Transcript][Video]

Day 43—March 3: Obama compares the stock market to a political daily tracking poll:

“The stock market is sort of like a tracking poll in politics. It bobs up and down day-to-day,” Obama said. “And if you spend all your time worrying about that, then you’re probably going to get the long-term strategy wrong.”

Day 44—March 4: While testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, Secretary Geithner is challenged by committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) as to the invention by the Obama administration of a new metric – “creating or saving” jobs – the very same metric Obama claimed on Feb. 9 is the most important measure of success:

SEN: MAX BAUCUS: “You created a situation where you cannot be wrong. If the economy loses 2 million jobs over the next few years, you can say yes, but it would’ve lost 5.5 million jobs. If we create a million jobs, you can say, well, it would have lost 2.5 million jobs,” Baucus said. “You’ve given yourself complete leverage where you cannot be wrong, because you can take any scenario and make yourself look correct.”
CNN visits the site of the first “stimulus” dollars to hit the ground: An $8.5 million bridge near the town of Tuscumbia, Missouri – population 223.

Day 45—March 5: Testifying before the House Budget Committee, Secretary Geithner concedes Obama’s budget raises taxes on small businesses, but focuses on a meaningless metric: The percentage of small businesses affected rather than the fact that two-thirds of small business profits will be subject to higher taxation.

Day 46 – March 6: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the unemployment rate rose from 7.6% to 8.1%, and the economy shed 651,000 jobs in the month of February.

Day 51—March 11: Obama signs HR 1105, the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, a $410 billion piece of legislation containing over 8,000 earmarks. By signing the bill, Obama breaks at least three of his most important campaign promises:

  1. Transparency—Obama promised to post passed legislation online for five full days before signing it. Obama signed the Omnibus spending bill less than a day after he received it from Congress.

“When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as President, you, the American voter, will have five days to look online and find out what it is before I sign it.
(June 22, 2007. Manchester, New Hampshire)
[Transcript] [Video]

  1. Overall spending – Obama promised to enact net spending cuts as President. The Omnibus bill is more than 8 percent higher than 2008 spending levels.

“So we’re going to have to make some investments but we’ve also got to make spending cuts, and what I’ve proposed—you’ll hear Senator McCain say ‘he’s proposing a whole bunch of new spending’ –but, actually, I’m cutting more than I’m spending. So that it will be a net spending cut.”
(Oct. 7, 2008. Second Presidential Debate, Nashville, TN)
[Transcript] [Video]

  1. Wasteful spending – Obama promised to “go line by line” to make sure taxpayer money was not wasted. Among the questionable spending in the Omnibus bill is an earmark which sticks taxpayers with a $200,000 tab for a tattoo removal program in California.

“And, absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.” (Sept. 26, 2008. First Presidential Debate, Oxford, Miss.)
[Transcript][Video]

Day 52—March 12: While testifying before the Senate Budget Committee, Treasury Secretary Geithner acknowledges tax increases “hurt growth” – then proceeded to duck questions as to whether President Obama’s planned tax hikes would go into effect in 2011 regardless of the condition of the economy:

SEN. MIKE CRAPO, R-Idaho: “You say that the tax increases will only happen when the economy has recovered. I understand that a lot of economists are saying we are going to be recovered by 2011. Frankly I think there are economists who are saying maybe our recovery will not be so strong by then. My question to you is, are these tax increases contingent on a recovery or are they going to happen regardless of what happens in 2011?”

SEC. GEITHNER: “Senator, I think it is a very important question. I think, again, we need to lay out an ambitious path for bringing those deficits down, commit to achieving that with a mix of measures on the resource side and the spending side to do the best possible job of leaving our economy stronger, and that’s what the President’s budget tries to do. Now of course we are going to have to watch how the economy evolves and I want to underscore that one of the mistakes governments have made over time in dealing with economic crises is putting the brakes on too quickly or in ways that hurt growth just as it’s starting to take hold. We just want to be careful not to do that.”

SEN. CRAPO: “So are you saying if we don’t see the more rosy picture in 2011 that we may not see the Administration suggest that we move to enact tax increases?”

SEC. GEITHNER: “I’m just saying that recovery requires that we keep stimulus sustained until growth is in place but we have to do it in a fiscally responsible way.”

Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board (RAT Board) cautions that it would be at least a year before recovery.gov, the website that is supposed to be tracking “stimulus” spending, will be running properly. He also points out that there will be waste and fraud:

“I’m afraid that there may be a naive impression that given the amount of transparency and accountability called for by this act, no or little fraud will occur. My 38 years of federal enforcement experience tells me that some level of waste and fraud is unfortunately inevitable.”

Day 57—March 17: The Providence Journal reports that the city of Pawtucket in Rhode Island will be using $550,000 in federal “stimulus” money to build a skateboarding park and renovate tennis and basketball courts at a local high school.

Caterpillar announces it is laying off 2,454 employees.

Day 58—March 18: Obama extols Treasury Secretary Geithner: “Nobody’s working harder than this guy. You know, he is making all the right moves in terms of playing a bad hand. I have complete confidence in Tim Geithner and my entire economic team.”
[Video]

Day 60—March 20: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO)releases a report on the cost of Obama’s budget. According to the report:

Day 64—March 24: During the second press conference of his presidency, Obama tells the nation his budget moves “from an era of borrow-and-spend to one where we save and invest.”

Obama also falsely claims his budget “will provide a tax cut to 95 percent of all working families that will appear in people’s paychecks by April 1.”

In reality, it is impossible to cut taxes for “95 percent of working families.”

According to IRS data, one-third of all income tax filers do not have an income tax liability. About 15 percent of all working families do not even have a FICA tax liability, and these numbers are before taking into effect all the new refundable tax credits in the Obama budget. For these “working families,” all Obama’s budget will do is cut them the equivalent of a welfare check.

Day 66—March 26: An Associated Press story reports that the Obama Administration’s claims to “save and create” jobs through the “stimulus” package cannot be substantiated. ATR says “We told you so.”

Day 70—March 30: Obama signs the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, a bill containing numerous earmarks, including $3.5 million to celebrate the 450th Anniversary of St Augustine, Florida in 2015.

Day 71—March 31: The White House discloses that Kathleen Sebelius, its second nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, had to pay $7,040 in back taxes.

Onvia, a Seattle-based company launches a website called Recovery.org. While the administration is looking to lower expectations regarding recovery.gov, recovery.org already contains much more useful information that the administration’s site which primarily boasts spin and propaganda

The GAO releases a report on TARP underscoring the lack of transparency and accountability in the program.

Day 72—April 1: On April Fool’s Day, Obama’s first broken promise goes into effect: His promise not to raise any form of taxes on those making less than $250,000 per year. Signed into law back on Feb. 4, on just the sixteenth day of his presidency, the 156 percent –61 cents per pack—cigarette tax increase falls largely on the shoulders of middle and low-income Americans.

“I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.” (Barack Obama, September 12, 2008, Dover, NH)
[Transcript] [Video clip]

“No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama’s plan will see one single penny of their tax raised, whether it’s their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax.”(Joe Biden, Oct. 3, 2008, Vice Presidential Debate, St. Louis, MO)
[Transcript] [Video Clip]

Asked about the tax increase/broken promise, White House spokesman Reid H. Cherlin said The president’s position throughout the campaign was that he would not raise income or payroll taxes on families making less than $250,000, and that’s a promise he has kept.”

Day 73—April 2: The House and Senate pass the Obama budget outline

Day 74—April 3: Day 74—April 3: A Wall Street Journal story notes that CBO’s budget estimate from March also quietly revised the cost of TARP up from $189 billion in January to $356 billion.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the unemployment rate rose from 8.1% to 8.5%, and the economy shed 663,000 jobs in the month of March.

Day 75—April 4: Responding to questioning as to why Obama has not met his promise to post legislation online for five full days before signing it into law, senior advisor David Axelrod answered Have we achieved everything we want to achieve yet? No. We’ve actually been a little preoccupied. We’re trying to deal with some major challenges here.”

Day 78—April 7: Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security releases a report titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment”

Day 85—April 14: Asked about the tax day tea parties being held the following day, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said I don’t know if the President is aware of the events.”

Day 86—April 15: At least 578,000 Americans attend at least 540 tax day tea parties across the country.

On this day in 1990, Leona Helmsley is ordered to report to prison for not paying her taxes.

On this day in 2009, Tim Geithner is Treasury Secretary and runs the IRS.

Day 88—April 17: Despite her tax problems, Kathleen Sebelius wins Senate Committee approval.

Day 90—April 19: Obama senior advisor David Axelrod, appearing on the CBS Sunday morning show Face the Nation, describes the taxpayer tea parties as “unhealthy”.

Day 91—April 20: Obama insults taxpayers by calling for a mere $100 million in spending cuts from the federal budget within 90 days.

  • $100 million represents .003% (three one thousandths of a percent) of Obama’s FY 2010 budget.
  • $100 million is what the federal government spends every 13 minutes.
  • $100 million is less than one day of interest on the “stimulus” bill championed by Obama.
  • As Harvard Economist Greg Mankiw points out, cutting $100 million from the federal budget is the equivalent of a family spending $100,000 per year cutting a $3 latte from the annual budget.

Attempting to defend the paltry amount of proposed cuts, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs tells reporters: “I’m not making jokes about it. I’m being completely sincere that only in Washington, D.C. is $100 million not a lot of money. It is where I’m from. It is where I grew up. And I think it is for hundreds of millions of Americans.”
[Video]

Day 93—April 22: Happy Earth Day? Obama sends three cabinet officers to Congress to testify in favor of the energy provisions in his budget, threatening Americans with a $10,000 tax hike per year on every American family once fully phased in. A GAO report warns of a lack of accountability and oversight for “stimulus” spending, and points out the slow pace of spending in spite of Vice President Joe Biden’s assertion that “stimulative spending is ahead of schedule.”

One thought on “Fiscal Follies of Obama’s 100 Days

  1. Mark Mann

    First, I understand your biased perspective but fail to see any progress in advancing academia with including thoughts so one-sided such as these. Since Obama took office, he and the Democratic Congress’ tax cuts in their first three weeks are larger than Bush’s combined tax cuts in his first three years (http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/323.html).

    And second, this report is complete hot air. The destination where you pulled this report is from the Americans for Tax Reform website which is a nonprofit, 501(c)(4) lobbying organization.

    How does this promote academia? Where is intelligent discourse if the main argument is based entirely off a lobbying organization’s blog posting?

    (I absolutely hope this comment doesn’t get filtered out but have a strong feeling it will. Here’s to hoping for the best!)

    Reply

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