Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.
When California developed a significant budget surplus, I predicted the Democrat-controlled Legislature would try to spend it.
It wasn’t a particularly tough forecast. If you throw a side of beef to a pack of slavering jackals, they will fall upon it with gusto.
So the Dems have said, “That 5 percent increase for welfare: It isn’t enough. Those increases in health care for the poor: They aren’t enough.” And between the lines: “Money for my pet project: It isn’t enough.”
The Golden State’s surplus may not be huge, but it’s big enough to establish a $1 billion rainy-day fund, which isn’t overwhelming, given a general fund budget of more than $106 billion.
Holding the line on spending, so far, is Gov. Jerry Brown, which is out of character for a Democrat. Arguing for austerity, Brown has declared, “Prudence is never easy.”
In the real world, that assertion would be a grand non-sequitur, but context is everything. The governor works in Sacramento, the state capital, where prudence generally is in short supply and its exercise is, indeed, difficult.
We should note as well that “austerity” also should be taken in context. To a Democratic legislator, it means “not being able to spend what I want to.” In the real world, it means something rather more severe.
Hold your applause: Before you give Brown a rousing ovation, remember that his proposed budget includes up to $29 million, “borrowed” from the state Transportation Fund, to provide life support for the state’s high-speed rail project, a $68 billion boondoggle.
‘Free’ preschool: Meanwhile, the leftists in the Legislature continue to push for universal preschool for four-year-olds. Darrell Steinberg, the state Senate’s president pro tem, calls the idea a “smart investment.” The Dems think the $1 billion annual cost would be recovered because the kids would be more likely to finish school and less likely to become criminals. They also would learn early on that it’s OK for boys to use the girls’ bathroom.
However, one must wonder: If preschool programs for the poor, like Head Start, are so great, why does the drop-out rate remain so high?
New watchwords: Hillary Clinton already has provided us the campaign slogan, “What difference does it make?!” Now comes President Barack Obama with the catchphrase of his entire tenure in the White House: “Not a smidgen.”
Corruption at the Internal Revenue Service? Not a smidgen.
Malfeasance at Benghazi? Not a smidgen.
NSA spying on American citizens? Not a smidgen.
Malfeasance in “Fast and Furious”? Not a smidgen.
Presidential understanding of basic economics? Not a smidgen.
Presidential recognition of policy missteps? Not a smidgen.
Presidential knowledge of what’s going on in his administration? Not a smidgen.
The chance that Obama might advance his agenda during the next three years? Not a smidgen, and we may give thanks for that.
Classifying lies: Mark Twain defined three types of prevarication: “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.” The latter classification applies in the Obama administrations response to a finding by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that Obamacare is a job killer.
Out trotted administration mouthpiece Jay Carney, explaining that O’Care wasn’t killing jobs; people just were choosing to work less. This was an inversion of the nonpartisan CBO’s analysis that some people would quit or cut back their hours because of lower wages attributable to the law, and others would do the same because they didn’t need to work to keep health coverage.
So both sides are correct, but one side is a liar.
Carney also trotted out the president’s contention that the economy has added 8.1 million jobs since O’Care became law. Let us not dispute this statistic; rather, let us ask what the net change in employment has been since its adoption. That’s a statistic that would carry some truth.
And while we’re at it, let us point out that while Obama contends he has “cut the deficit in half,” he never mentions the reduction is from the record overspending he ran up in his first term. And the deficit remains higher than it was in the last year of George W. Bush’s administration.
Lies, damn lies, et cetera.
Media wishing to interview Michael Ackley, please contact email@example.com.