America's budget deficit is enormous. In fiscal 2010, it was $1.3 trillion, and government spending increased nine percent. But on Sunday's State of the Union program on CNN, anchor Candy Crowley pressed Obama's budget director Jack Lew from the left. The only question was who's going to be victimized by spending cuts: "So let's get down to the basic question, who's going to get hurt in this budget?"
Lew claimed "The budget saves $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years in domestic spending. It reduces, as you said in your introduction, $400 billion, which would bring us down to the smallest government as a size of the economy since Eisenhower was president." Team Obama's trying to sound like they're economizers, which is ludicrous. But Crowley could only retort: "At what cost?" Lew claimed the Obama budget has "scores of programs that are being reduced." Crowley could only keep suggesting they were heartless:
CROWLEY: So you have said in an editorial you wrote that the budget is an expression of our values and aspirations. So if I look at this what we call discretionary spending, things we don't have to spend on, you want to cut back community development block programs. That creates jobs in communities; it helps them with infrastructure, that kind of thing. Home heating assistance; education, as you just mentioned. You're also going to do -- the Great Lakes Restoration Fund Initiative is getting a pretty healthy cut in what they get from the feds, eight states involved, in trying to keep the Great Lakes economically viable. What does that say about our values and aspirations?
LEW: Well, what it says, Candy, is that we really do have to do what every American family does; we have to start living within our means.
Crowley's questioning implied that no one's "going to get hurt" if spending balloons without restraint -- and that government "investment" in infrastructure or industrial policy is unquestionably effective. She started lecturing Lew about how cuts will ruin education:
Here's the problem, I guess. If you are a graduate -- let's take one of your examples. You're a graduate student; you are, right now, getting loans. You don't have to pay those loans or any interest on them until you graduate. But now you have to pay -- or it accumulates, I'm assuming -- you have to pay interest beginning on Day One of grad school, and that makes it so that you can't go to grad school.
Lew replied that letting interest accumulate wouldn't make it impossible to go to grad school. Government officials are too polite and afraid of media reaction to wonder out loud how we are going to be able to make any budget reductions with media people constantly talking about victims and imagining victims before cuts are ever made.