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Audacious Theater

Here’s a letter that I sent last night to U.S. News & World Report:

You report that President Obama today “challenged” his cabinet to “cut the budget by $100 million” (“Obama to Cabinet: Cut $100 Million from Budget,” April 20).  What courage.  A President who proclaims the importance of making “hard choices” calls upon his government to trim away a whopping one thirty-six-thousandth of its projected expenditures for the year – or, alternatively reckoned, one twelve-thousandth of its projected budget deficit.

To put this budget “cut” in perspective, suppose that the typical American family, earning $50,000 annually, plans this year to run a budget deficit proportionate to the deficit that Uncle Sam will run.  Such a family would plan to spend $75,000.  Now suppose that this family, seeking to signal its faux-commitment to financial prudence, promises spending cuts equal, in proportion to its budget, to the cuts announced today by Mr. Obama.

This family would declare – surely with much fanfare – that it will reduce its planned expenditures for the year by $2.08!  Perhaps it might promise to survive the year with one less gallon of gasoline or with one less cup of coffee.

Who would take such a gesture to be anything other than audaciously insulting sarcasm by the chronically irresponsible?

Donald J. Boudreaux

Update: I like this breakdown to the minute by BloodyMaryBreakfast.