The American people already knew Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner had a math problem. After all, what else could account for innocent errors on years of income tax returns, errors that compelled him to pay $42,700 in back taxes and penalties for the privilege of enforcing IRS statutes on his fellow citizens?
But it isn't only Geithner who has issues with numbers. The entire Obama administration, the Democratic leadership of Congress and even liberal advocacy groups who parrot the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda are proving themselves to be numerically challenged.
Take the furor over AIG bonuses. The exclusion Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., slipped into the so-called stimulus package at the behest of the administration put $165 million of taxpayer money into the pockets of AIG executives.
Treasury officials had known about the bonuses for months. And for all of his "Tonight Show" indignation, President Obama could have actually done something to claw back those bonuses he was so "shocked" to learn about.
On March 2, the Obama administration poured another $30 billion of public funds into AIG. That's billion with a "b," or 181 times the value of the bonuses AIG's head honchos received.
A president who understood those numbers would have made AIG management an offer it couldn't refuse: Pay back the bonuses, or kiss the bailout money, your company and your jobs goodbye. Instead, we're treated to the spectacle of the White House opposing but not too strenuously congressional measures to tax the bonuses out of existence.
That's the same lame tack the White House took when members of Congress were larding up the fiscal 2009 spending bill, despite Obama's professed opposition to the abuse of earmarks.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., penned an op-ed in USA Today defending the Democrats' management of the budget process, noting that earmarks constituted less than 2 percent of the $410 billion measure. Media Matters, a reliable mouthpiece for all things Democratic, echoed the "less than 2 percent" defense on its County Fair media blog.
Again, look at the numbers. Those $8 billion in earmarks are 48 times the value of the AIG bonuses. The bonuses represent only .02 percent of the $787 billion stimulus package.
And, by the way, remember when Democrats were ramming that special-interest treat down the taxpayers' throats? Way back then in February, any federal spending any at all was considered to be essential to save the economy. Perhaps Team Obama had in mind that AIG executives would use the bonuses to pay their gardeners and au pairs and leave nice tips for the concierge.
The messiah of fiscal spending salvation, John Maynard Keynes, wrote that in economic downturns, even having the Treasury fill old bottles with bank notes, bury them in the ground and then allowing private enterprise to dig them up would have a positive effect. Geithner and Dodd simply bypassed the manual labor and buried the money in the arcane language of a spending monstrosity President Obama insisted needed to be passed without a moment's deliberation.
Here's another number: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported last week that the deficits under the Obama budget exceed those anticipated by the White House by $2.3 trillion over 10 years. That's trillion with a "t." The CBO's projection of a $9.3 trillion deficit from the Obama budget dwarfs the AIG bonuses by a factor of 53,364.
Two more numbers: 18 senior positions in the Treasury Department that require a presidential nomination and Senate confirmation; and one, the single nomination President Obama has made until this week, Timothy Geithner, during what he describes as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
President Obama should forget about his crummy scores in the White House bowling alley. The only numbers that count right now are in the economy. And so far, he's throwing far too many gutter balls.