1.) Did Boehner get boned on budget cuts? — A bill that Republicans said will cut $38 billion in spending between now and the end of the 2011 fiscal year will, if passed, save only $352 million, claims the Congressional Budget Office. “About $8 billion in cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid,” for instance, “are offset by nearly equal increases in defense spending,” says the AP. The news agency also reports that “when war funding is factored in the legislation would actually increase total federal outlays by $3.3 billion relative to current levels.” The upside here is that when your deficit is $1.6 trillion, spending an additional $3.3 billion is just as inconsequential as cutting $352 million, or even $38 billion. (This is hardly consolation for America’s unborn babies, most of whom will probably learn to walk, talk, and bust rocks in high-tech debtor’s prisons.) The Examiner’s Phil Klein knocked Boehner hard for this one: “it now appears that the new Republican majority has done what it attacked Democrats for doing when they controlled the House. They negotiated a back room deal, didn’t release the details until 2 a.m., and the more we have of the details, the more we find out that the actual deal is filled with accounting gimmicks.” Will the CBO report change a single person’s mind before the House votes today? Probably not.
2.) Everybody hated Obama’s budget speech, even Joe Biden — Watching his boss take sideways potshots at Rep. Paul Ryan was not enough to keep Joe Biden from passing out at Obama’s budget speech on Wednesday. But Biden was hardly the only person who was left unimpressed. “Did the White House A/V dude load the wrong file into Obama’s teleprompter?” asks Reuters Columnist James Pethokoukis. “I rarely heard a speech by a president so shallow, so hyper-partisan and so intellectually dishonest, outside the last couple of weeks of a presidential election where you are allowed to call your opponent anything short of a traitor. But, we’re a year-and-a-half away from Election Day and it was supposed to be a speech about policy,” bemoaned Charles Krauthammer. “I thought the president’s invitation…was an olive branch. Instead, what we got was a speech that was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to address our country’s fiscal challenges,” sighed Obama’s bete noir. The GOP’s 2012 Peanut Gallery also weighed in, with Newt Gingrich offering “Six Ways to Win the Future (with Newt Gingrich)” as an antidote.
3.) Meanwhile, liberals sing the praises of Obama’s first campaign speech — Did you think yesterday’s address was about the budget? Well, that’s dumb of you. Obama’s speech was actually about how to convince alllllllll the independents who voted Republican in 2010, as well as alllllll the progressives who are threatening to go door-to-door on behalf of Dennis Kucinich, that Obama is still the same guy. For the moment, bruised lefties are buying it. “He was speaking to Americans, but progressives could hear the dog whistle,” Third Way’s Jim Kessler told the NYT, adding that “the speech would appeal to independent voters who want deficit reduction while not turning off liberals who want the president to stand and fight for his principles.” Right: And Joe Biden wasn’t nodding off yesterday, he was just nodding.
4.) More on Trumps’s Hawaii investigation: ‘People’ are in Hawaii — “An aide described as Donald Trump’s ‘Karl Rove’ declined to discuss details of the real estate mogul’s ongoing investigation in Hawaii into President Obama, saying it would be ‘completely counterproductive’ to tip Trump’s hand, allowing Obama to then shield himself from the investigation,” reports The Daily Caller’s Jonathan Strong. “Michael Cohen, Trump’s aide, did not provide any other details about the investigation besides that ‘people,’ plural, are in Hawaii.” While their doings may be a mystery, their greater purpose is clear: “The move is part of a political strategy to appeal to Republican primary voters as Trump contemplates running for president. According to some polls, roughly half of the GOP primary electorate questions whether Obama was born in Hawaii.”
5.) The rich cannot save us — Over at The Right Sphere, Kevin Eder poses a thoughtful challenge to his liberal detractors: What proof does the left have that hiking taxes will ease our budget burden? “The largest amount of revenue the federal government has ever brought in during one fiscal year was $2.7 trillion in FY 2008 – under the dreaded George W. Bush and his ‘tax cuts for the rich.’ Even if the government were to raise this much revenue in FY 2011, we would still be over $1 trillion short of what Obama wants to spend this year,” Eder writes. “Can you please explain to me how raising taxes on ‘the rich’ is going to close this gap? The government is only going to collect $2.2 trillion dollars in FY 2011, and the CBO’s best estimates show that even if the Bush tax rates had expired at the end of last year, the government would have brought in an additional $60 billion per year.” In other words, what happens when overtaxing the rich still doesn’t save us? With liberals arguing that the U.S. can afford to “absorb some debt,” and secretly arguing that deficit reduction should not be a priority in a recession, there’s probably zero interest in answering this question.
6.) Why did no Wall Streeters go to jail after the financial crisis? — “Several years after the financial crisis, which was caused in large part by reckless lending and excessive risk taking by major financial institutions, no senior executives have been charged or imprisoned, and a collective government effort has not emerged,” writes the NYT. “This stands in stark contrast to the failure of many savings and loan institutions in the late 1980s. In the wake of that debacle, special government task forces referred 1,100 cases to prosecutors, resulting in more than 800 bank officials going to jail.” This time around, the looters seem to be getting off free. One explanation is that bank regulators, more of whom would supposedly have saved us from catastrophe, might as well be working for the banks: “In 1995, bank regulators referred 1,837 cases to the Justice Department. In 2006, that number had fallen to 75. In the four subsequent years, a period encompassing the worst of the crisis, an average of only 72 a year have been referred for criminal prosecution.” We need regulators for our regulators!