In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 9, 2011 3 Adar II, 5771

Obama and the White House's ‘halfway’ fixation with the budget

By Glenn Kessler

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "My administration has already put forward specific cuts that meet congressional Republicans halfway. And I'm prepared to do more."

-- President Obama, weekly radio address, March 5, 2011

The White House was not happy last week when we gave two Pinocchios to Democrats for persistently saying they have gone "halfway" to GOP proposals on cutting the 2011 fiscal year budget. We also suggested that the "halfway" phrase would be worth more Pinocchios if President Obama began to use it.

He did so in his weekly radio address, but not before the White House gave the Fact Checker a bunch of data and charts trying to make the administration's case for using the phrase. So let's review the issue again, and see how persuasive their argument is.

The Facts

It really comes down to where you draw the line -- the budget baseline. Democrats like to draw the line at the president's proposal for 2011, even though it was never enacted. Under that measure, Republicans would cut about $100 billion and Democrats some $50 billion. That's where the "halfway" comes from.

Republicans -- and much of the news media -- measure the cuts from the 2010 budget, the last one signed into law. Under that scoring, the Republicans have cut $60 billion and the Democrats about $10 billion. The two sides are still $50 billion apart, but under this scenario, the Democrats have barely budged.

White House officials have argued that it makes sense to compare one proposal -- the president's 2011 budget request -- with another proposal, the House 2011 bill. But that argument has gained little traction in official Washington.

The White House has now come up with a third way of drawing the line: the 2010 budget, adjusted for inflation. This is not unreasonable, since inflation means a dollar one year does not buy as much as the next year. (This "inflated baseline" provided by the White House has an additional wrinkle -- an extra $5.5 billion to ensure Pell grants for college remain at a full $4,850 award -- but that is a bit complicated to explain, so we will leave that aside for the moment.)

Under this scenario, the discretionary budget for fiscal 2011 would have been $1.117 trillion, all things being equal.

Here's how the different budget proposals compare when adjusted for this new line:

President's original 2011 proposal: +$12 billion

Latest Democratic proposal: -$39 billion

House Republicans: -$91 billion

These numbers show that the president's proposal certainly would have been an increase over inflation. But they also appear to show that the Democrats have moved even more toward the GOP position, though not quite "halfway."

To some extent, this is all semantics. No matter how you measure it, the two sides are always about $50 billion apart.

However, we are not convinced by the White House presentation. The inflated baseline helps demonstrate that even a "freeze" would mean a cut in some spending, but it still makes more sense to compare the 2011 proposals to the 2010 numbers.

Certainly, cuts along the lines of what the House Republicans have proposed would be substantial. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning group respected for its number-crunching, recently tallied up a list that documents the potential impact on poorer Americans.

We also did some rough calculations to compare the current GOP plan to the $16 billion in budget cuts (known as recissions) made by congressional Republicans in 1995. All things being equal, the current House bill appears to be about three times as large as the bill that President Bill Clinton signed into law (after first vetoing an earlier version). That bill cut the budget by about 3 percent, or 0.2 percent of the gross domestic product; this proposal would reduce the budget about 8 percent, or 0.75 percent of GDP.

But has the White House offered "specific cuts," as the president asserted? That's not quite accurate, especially compared with the detailed cutbacks in the House bill. In fact, that's where the White House's arguments breaks down. The specific trims offered by Democrats amount to just $10.5 billion.

The president made a number of other questionable comments elsewhere in his radio address.

Obama said the 2012 budget "will reduce our deficits by $1 trillion over the next decade." That's only through a number of dubious accounting gimmicks, which we have previously documented. The president's proposals would actually increase the deficit in 2012, the year that counts.

Obama also claims "the cuts I've proposed would bring annual domestic spending to its lowest share of the economy under any president in more than 50 years." Again, that would be at the end of the budget period -- after Obama finishes what he hopes would be a second term. He neglected to mention that in 2010 he brought annual domestic spending to its highest share of the economy -- 4.5 percent -- in three decades. Even you buy the president's claim that he wants to cut discretionary spending, mandatory spending and net interest in 2016 would amount to the highest share of the economy in history.

The Pinocchio Test

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.

Three Pinocchios

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on Glenn Kessler's column by clicking here. >

An award-winning journalism career spanning nearly three decades, Glenn Kessler has covered foreign policy, economic policy, the White House, Congress, politics, airline safety and Wall Street. He was The Washington Post's chief State Department reporter for nine years, traveling around the world with three different Secretaries of State. Before that, he covered tax and budget policy for The Washington Post and also served as the newspaper's national business editor. Kessler has long specialized in digging beyond the conventional wisdom, such as when he earned a "laurel" from the Columbia Journalism Review


03/08/11: Foreign policy braggadocio on Libya and AIDS

03/07/11: Democrats keep misleading on claimed budget ‘cuts’

03/01/11: Mike Huckabee is on to something here, but jumped the gun

02/25/11: Harry Reid's illusory $41 billion in budget cuts

© 2011, Washington Post