Families are Budgeting, So Why Won’t Democrats?

March 10, 2011

Americans are Budgeting Around Higher Gas Prices, But Democrats in Washington Refuse to Do the Same and Make Responsible Spending Cuts


When pledging his commitment to deficit reduction, President Obama is fond of stating that government needs to “live within its means,” just as families do:


MAR 5, 2011: “We need a government that lives within its means…” (Barack Obama, “Weekly Address: Both Parties Must Come Together on a Budget that Cuts Wasteful Spending Without Sacrificing Investments in the Future,” The White House, 3/5/2011)


FEB. 12, 2011: “Families across this country understand what it takes to manage a budget.  They understand what it takes to make ends meet without forgoing important investments like education.  Well, it’s time Washington acted as responsibly as our families do.” (Barack Obama, “Weekly Address: ‘It’s Time Washington Acted as Responsibly as Our Families Do’,” The White House, 2/12/2011)


MAY 24, 2010: “In a time when American families and small business owners are conscious of every dollar and make sure that they manage their budgets wisely, the Federal Government can do no less.  The American people expect and demand that we spend their money with the same discipline.” (Barack Obama, “Message from the President Regarding the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act,” The White House, 5/24/2010)


Obama tosses this talking point around quite a bit, but doesn’t get it. When push comes to shove, he refuses to lead by offering responsible spending cuts and criticizes those who do:


FELLOW DEMOCRATS CRITICIZE OBAMA FOR FAILING TO LEAD: “Senior Democratic senators are practically begging and pleading for President Obama to roll up his sleeves and engage with Republicans on budget negotiations.”(Susan Crabtree, “Senior Democratic Senator to Obama: Please Engage on Budget Talks,” Talking Points Memo, 3/9/2011)


OBAMA ISSUES VETO THREAT FOR GOP BUDGET: “The White House said on Wednesday it strongly opposed a Republican-backed spending bill and said President Barack Obama will veto a bill if it undermines his priorities…” (Patricia Zengerle, “Obama Prepared to Veto Spending Bill if Necessary,” Reuters, 3/9/2011)


Despite infighting among Democrats over who is to blame for a lack of leadership on budget cuts, Senate and House Democrats have largely mimicked Obama’s refusal to agree to any meaningful spending cuts:


SENATE DEMOCRATS VOTE UNANIMOUSLY AGAINST GOP BUDGET PROPOSAL: Final Vote: 44-56. (Roll Call Vote #36, United States Senate Clerk, 3/9/2011)


ZERO HOUSE DEMS VOTE FOR SPENDING CUTS FOR THE REMAINDER OF FY 2011: Final Vote: 235-189 (Roll Call Vote 147, 2/19/2011)


PELOSI, 84 OTHER DEMS VOTE AGAINST STOPGAP MEASURE: Final Roll Call: 335-91 (Roll Call 154, Clerk of U.S. House)


While Washington Democrats pretend to be committed to responsible budgeting, American families are actually doing it. Facing record gas prices, Americans are pinching pennies to balance their household and small business budgets:


GAS AT $3.52/GALLON NATIONWIDE, UP FROM $2.76/GALLON A YEAR AGO(“Daily Fuel Gage Report, Current Average, Regular,” AAA, Accessed 3/9/11)


CONSUMERS SHIFTING BUYING HABITS: “The impact at the pump is now a habit changer.

“‘I’ve already changed my habits a little bit, I rode my bike down here,’ said Peter Wills of Portland.” (Joe Smith, “Oregon Sees Ripple Effect of High Gas Prices,” KGW News Channel 8, 3/7/2011)


“Discount food chains, like Food 4 Less and Winco here in the Valley are noticing an uptick, in shoppers.


“‘Yeah we are getting new customers coming in, they do save money because you have to bag your own groceries,’ said Jessica Fain, a cashier at Food 4 Less.”(“Valley Shoppers Worried About Higher Food Prices,” KMPH Fox 26, 3/5/2011)


SMALL BUSINESS ADAPTING TO HIGH GAS PRICES: “And, it’s already starting to affect business, particularly those that involve a lot of driving.  Local couriers, for example, spend a lot of money on gas to deliver packages and documents all over town.  A driver for Portland Courier says it’s getting to the point where they may have to look at raising prices, but then there’s the risk of losing business.” (“Pain at the Pump: Rising Gas Prices Affecting More Than What You Pay When You Fill Up,” WGME Channel 13, 3/8/2011)


“Madden said business has slowed down and shoppers are changing their buying habits.


“‘National brands have slowed down and private label brands have picked up quite a bit,’ said Madden…


‘It’s affected just about everybody in the store,’ said Madden, who has had to cut all his employees’ hours.” (“Costlier Groceries a Side Effect of Gas Prices,” Fox Phoenix, 3/7/2011)


Democrats in Washington, however, keep trying to spend money we don’t have. Instead of taking a cue from American families adjusting their expenses, Democrats are playing political games. Obama, Reid and Pelosi have all claimed that their budget proposal meets Republicans “halfway”—a talking point widely discredited by independent observers:


The Democrats’ posturing that they have met Republicans ‘halfway’ on budget cuts does them no credit. Either they should take a stand and say they won’t accept any further cuts, or they should begin a real negotiation that leads to a higher number. Obama signaled he was willing to deal when he said he was ‘prepared to do more.’ But the persistent claims of going ‘halfway’ when in fact Democrats have done little to engage Republicans on the issue will only hurt their credibility in the long run.” (Glen Kessler, “Obama and the White House’s ‘Halfway’ Fixation With the Budget,” The Washington Post, 3/8/2011)


When will Democrats stop spending money we don’t have and heed the American people, who believe we need to get spending under control to create jobs?:


53 PERCENT OF AMERICANS SAY CUTTING SPENDING WILL CREATE JOBS: “[T]he results indicate the public embraces the Republican argument that spending cuts will improve the economy and create jobsand doesn’t agree with Obama’s plan to invest in such areas as infrastructure to jumpstart a recovery.


Fifty-three percent say the drive to cut spending and taxes would improve the economy…” (Julie Hirschfield Davis and Heidi Przybyla, “Government Shutdown Opposed by Americans in Poll Faulting Cuts,” Bloomberg, 3/9/2011)


AMERICANS OVERWHELMING AGREE GOVERNMENT SHOULD “MAKE THE DIFFICULT BUT NECESSARY DECISIONS TO GET SPENDING UNDER CONTROL”:“Voters overall agreed that we should ‘make the difficult but necessary decisions to get spending under control’ by 64 to 29 percent. Republicans and Independents agree by the overwhelming margins of 81 to 18 percent and 63 to 33 percent respectively. But even a majority of Democratic voters agrees that the deficit is a result of too much spending, 52 to 35 percent.” (“Voters to Congress: Cut Federal Spending Now,” Resurgent Republic, 3/9/2011)