Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I’m not an economist, so I think I need someone to explain to me why freezing spending when you’re trying to expand the economy is a good idea.

Facing voter anger over mounting budget deficits, President Barack Obama will ask Congress to freeze spending for some domestic programs for three years beginning in 2011, administration officials said Monday.

Separately, Obama unveiled plans to help a middle class “under assault” pay its bills, save for retirement and care for kids and aging parents.

The spending freeze would apply to a relatively small portion of the federal budget, affecting a $477 billion pot of money available for domestic agencies whose budgets are approved by Congress each year. Some of those agencies could get increases, others would have to face cuts; such programs got an almost 10 percent increase this year. The federal budget total was $3.5 trillion.

The three-year plan will be part of the budget Obama will submit Feb. 1, senior administration officials said, commenting on condition of anonymity to reveal private details.

The Pentagon, veterans programs, foreign aid and the Homeland Security Department would be exempt from the freeze.

So I’m trying to figure this out. It’s not enough to really make a huge difference in the budget and special interest groups will lobby against it. The Republicans will reflexively hate it because that’s what they do, and so I wonder why the president is even bothering to throw them a bone. It will also piss off the liberals (it already has Rachel Maddow and Bob Herbert unhappy), and I’m not really sure how this fits in with the president’s attempts to stimulate the economy. Like I said, I need someone to explain it to me.