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John Stossel
John Stossel
3 Feb 2016
Political Arrogance

After the Iowa caucus results, it looks like Hillary Clinton vs. Marco Rubio in November! They lead the … Read More.

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Running on Empty

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20 Jan 2016
Economic Myths

Hillary Clinton: "Of course we want to raise the minimum wage!" Donald Trump: If we trade with China, "they … Read More.

Obama the Efficient Goes to Washington


How lucky we are to have Barack Obama as president. He's already come up with a revolutionary idea that escaped his predecessors : He's going to scour the budget for ... "waste and inefficiency"! "... go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs" (

It's astonishing that no one has thought of this before. Who knew programs could actually be eliminated just because they don't work and waste taxpayers' money?

And he's making progress.

"[W]e have already identified $2 trillion in savings over the next decade."

How will he do it? Here's an example: "Agriculture Secretary Vilsack is saving nearly $20 million with reforms to modernize programs and streamline bureaucracy" (

Amazing! "Modernize and streamline." It is indeed a new day.

Though he says he wants better not bigger government, Obama plans to spend a lot more money — on medical reform, education, energy, etc. He also promises to halve the deficit by the end of his term. (Presumptuously he says, "first term.")

This is dangerous nonsense. Obama's budget numbers are laden with politically driven assumptions about a rosy future in which robust economic growth pays for record-breaking government.

Unfortunately, Obama is simultaneously working hard to delay recovery by imposing new taxes on the rich, toadying up to unions and trial lawyers, being ambiguous about trade and threatening all sorts of "activist" government that makes the future even more unpredictable. The new taxes are not just the direct assault on wealthy taxpayers, but indirect punishments, like his cap-and-trade plan for carbon emissions. His gifts to unions go beyond the outrageous "card-check" rule to the requirement that stimulus spending go to union workers who must be paid artificially high Davis-Bacon wages. All this will frighten off private capital and suffocate economic recovery.

Obama's budget also creates a $634-billion "reserve fund" for medical reform — but only $318 billion is to come from higher taxes.

Where will the rest come from? Where else? Savings squeezed out of Medicare, Medicaid and other medical programs.

Give me a break.

It is hard to take seriously his claim that he will cut old spending to make way for new spending and a lower deficit. As The Wall Street Journal ( points out, "[T]he 2009 budget deficit is estimated to be an eye-popping 12.7 percent of GDP, which once again dwarfs anything we've seen in the postwar era. The White House blueprint predicts that this will fall back down to 3.5 percent as soon as 2012, but this is based on assumptions about Washington that aren't going to happen."

One of the most absurd assumptions is that the new stimulus spending will be temporary.

Higher stimulus spending in the current budget becomes the new baseline for future budgets. Any cuts below that line will be condemned as heartless.

Every president promises to save money by eliminating waste and fraud. But the savings never materialize.

In Washington, one person's waste is another person's pork. Every dime spent by the federal government has well-connected advocates who swear the money is vital to the national interest. They line up to testify. Even if they didn't grease the palms of lobbyists and congressmen, their cries would be hard to resist. "This program will keep this poor woman, your constituent, alive! Would you be so cold as to deny her that?"

Congress appropriates the money, and then the permanent bureaucracy fights forever to preserve it. After all, its very life depends on it.

It's not that people in government aren't as good or competent as those in the private sector (though that may be true). The difference lies in the incentives and feedback they face. Bureaucracies have little check on what they do, no bottom line, no market prices for their "output." What they do have is an incentive to spend all the money budgeted or risk getting less next year.

As Milton Friedman used to say, no one spends other people's money as carefully as he spends his own. It is absurd to think the humongous constellation of federal bureaucracies is going to identify and root out "waste" in any significant way. It's just not in the nature of the beast.

John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20" and the author of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at




3 Comments | Post Comment
If one has lived long enough (I have), paid enough attention (again, I have) over the years, and reads enough from sources that present the facts and the truth rather than the leftist party line (I have), one can say with certainty that the things Obama and the leftist congress are doing to correct the economic blight spreading across the nation are a primer on how to destroy America. He and his cohorts in congress are 180 degrees wrong. This is a terrible thing and would be an horrendous tragedy if they thought that they were doing the right things for the country. What makes this administration and its perpetrators a sacrilege is the fact that they KNOW that these things are wrong because they have seen them fail all over the world. They also know the right way to lighten the destruction wrought by the impending economic meltdown. It too has been done in the past and has succeeded. Tax rate cuts to all federal taxes, tort reform, de-regulation of government interference in the lives of the citizenry, and an independent judiciary constitute the right way to address this economic crisis. Once again, the tragedy here is the fact that these people know this. One cannot buy votes with these measures.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Jobe
Wed Mar 4, 2009 10:20 AM
If one were naive enough to believe that this arcane manipulation masquerading as bullheadedness or stupidity were the result of a neophyte being in office, one could brush it off and hope for the best, but sadly, the empty suit with Rahm Emanuel pulling the strings of the puppet has dazzled the masses and he is malevolently and maliciously orchestrating the demise of America so that he and his minions can control what is left with an iron fist. An inversion has taken place. A young man's preoccupation is often sexual encounters; a middle-aged man sells out for money; an elderly man eschews lust and greed and focuses on power. That is the target here, and the ones involved have peddled their souls for the achieving of this one thing. The people are merely fodder for their cannon.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Juanito Verde
Sun Mar 8, 2009 7:00 AM
Obama's plans will finish bankrupting America! He, like all politicians, know absolutely nothing about a budget. This is why they have all the 'economic advisers' that's 'ADVISED' America right into Bankruptcy! His 'line by line', like all other words of hype he throws out, is nothing more than saying "I'm working on it, but it's going to take me years!" In other words, 'he's expecting to get re-elected' again. May God help us!
The more Obama talks about what he's doing that'sso great for America, the more Taxpayers are hearing 'Socialism' is right around the corner.
Never once, have Taxpayers heard words from him and his buddies "we're going to cut all our
salaries and retirements to $12,000.00 until we get trillions of dollars paid off!" After
all, it's costing him nothing to live 'high off the hog, now is it?' Fed
Chairman, Ben Bernanke, stated and I'm quoting ‘We really had no choice in bailout of AIG!'
Yes, Mr. Bernanke, you did have a choice! When AIG received first bailout, why weren't strict
guidelines imposed on them; such as, cut ‘CEO fat cat' salaries, freebies, and retirements to
maximum $25,000.00 year. Older employees, offer them an early retirement package! All
other salaries to be cut by at least one-quarter, as a slice of the pie is better than no slice at all!
Mr. Bernanke this includes you, Obama, Pelosi, Rangel, Waxman, politicians! The other
option would have been to let AIG file bankruptcy so they could start over, and maybe this
time they would be more concerned and knowledgeable of what it takes to run a company by
tightening their pocketbooks! Taxpayers understand Bay of Thailand is buying AIG Retail
Bank Company and deal is to be completed April 2009. Will you and rest of politicians make
sure AIG pay off the trillions of dollars borrowed, without Taxpayers' consent, to foreign
countries? President Obama's top economic advisers vigorously defends his 3.6 trillion budget!
News flash for you -- “Taxpayers don't defend this nor any of the so-called put people back to
work programs, called infrastructures. I just left a meeting in which one of the ‘economic
advisers' from a bank stated he'd been in DC for a week!” I asked him why he thought America
needed infrastructures if we didn't bring textile and furniture manufacturing jobs back to
America? He stated ‘they' didn't discuss this, just infrastructures! Remember, these large banks
like Citicorp, Wachovia, etc. were bailed out! Taxpayers wonder why we're bailing them out if
politicians continue allowing the ‘economic' idiots to advise them. He had no answers! Guess
what, Mr. Economic Adviser was hoping the floor would open up and I'd fall through it! You
see, all the expert politicians and economists know as much about ‘thrifty management' as a
newborn. Bankruptcy is inevitable for “Freddie, Fannie, AIG, Banks, and a couple
automakers'!” Politicians and CEOS are going to have to ‘go back to basic add and subtract
methods, learn that they have to work seventy-eighty hours week, for a change, get off their
plush chairs, roll their sleeves up, sweep the floor if necessary, and work from the ground up.
There seems to be a lot of ‘experts' in government and financial institutions with no common
sense. It's time to run America like a private business; meaning, President, Vice-President,
Secretary, and Treasurer. All these cabinet members collecting huge salaries and benefits will
have to come to an end. Taxpayers know it's time to cut salaries to $12,000.00 yearly for all
politicians. After all, these Public Servant jobs are less than 30 days of service and, in today's
world of mismanagement, deceit and greed, this is more money than they deserve. Why aren't
we prosecuting the people handing out Taxpayers monies and the people who's receiving it?
Comment: #3
Posted by: Shirley deLong
Sun Mar 8, 2009 9:44 AM
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