USA Today publishes a relatively straightforward editorial on the present and future budget deficits embedded in President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget and related projections. The editorial states: “The budget plan forecasts an endless flow of red ink that will push the American economy relentlessly toward a perilous economic precipice. This is, of course, Obama’s failing. But it is also testament to years of dysfunction in Washington by both parties.”
USA Today invited the administration to respond, but reports that “[t]he White House declined to provide an opposing view to today’s editorial.” Instead the editors publish excerpts from budget director Peter Orszag’s introduction to the Obama administration’s 2011 budget. Orszag testifies to “making tough choices in the budget: cutting what doesn’t work or isn’t necessary and investing in what will help to expand the economy and employment in the coming years.” (Was he under oath at the time?)
The excerpts do not provide a response to the USA Today editorial’s concern about the sustainability of such unprecedented budget deficits running now and indefinitely into the future. Even according to the otherworldly theory under which Orszag is operating, however, the prospects don’t look good unless we succumb to Obamacare: “As I have said many times before and will again (since it’s still true!), the key to our long-term fiscal future is fiscally responsible health insurance reform. All our steps to rein in the deficit will be for naught if we do not reduce the rate of health care cost growth over time.” These two sentences combine circumlocution (“health insurance reform”) with a non sequitur.
This is an administration that is not usually reluctant to talk or to defend itself. If it is not unusually adept at blowing smoke, it is certainly prone to blow it in great quantities. Perhaps the administration did the right thing in declining to respond to the USA Today editorial. In the words of the Keith Whitley/Alison Krauss song (by Don Overstreet and Paul Schlitz): “You say it best when you say nothing at all.”
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