Is $17 Billion a Lot of Money? More GOP Doublespeak


The late Senator Everett Dirksen once said wryly about spending public money, “A billion here, a billion there, sooner or later it adds up to real money.”

Red County’s Matt Cunningham is positively shameless when it comes to being critical of anything President Obama does that might be viewed as a positive for the nation.  Then again, when (NOT IF) Obama’s policies succeed, it’s going to cause every conservative to re-evaluate lifelong-held beliefs about the role of government in our daily lives, so Matt has a vested interest at stake here. 

This post was critical of $17 billion in the elimination of wasteful programs that don’t work by crticized by Matt as “cuts more like fingernail clippings.” 

Matt writes: 

“Obama’s new idea of budget cutting is $17 billion out of a $3.4 trillion. That’s .0005 percent of proposed spending. And consonant with his reacical leftist mindset, half of these cuts come from defense, one of the few legitimately constutitional operations of the present federal Leviathan.

Those aren’t cuts. It more like clipping a fingernail, because it’s just a sliver of dead material that will quickly grow back.”

OK, so we’ve now established that $17 billion in savings from programs that no longer work well, is a “drop in the bucket.”  Because Matt weighed the cuts against the overall budget.  But when is $17 billion not a drop in the bucket? 

When it comes to federal earmarks. 

According to, federal budget earmarks “account for about $18 billion of our budget.”  But this number changes based on the organization watcfhing the funds.  According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, earmarks totaled $18.3 billion in 2008. Citizens Against Government Waste says earmarks for 2008 were $17.2 billion, and the Office of Management and Budget projected 2008 earmarks at $16.9 billion.  There is no question that there is some waste and fraud in some earmarks, as there would be in the defense budget as well.  But the vast majority of earmarks are not the root of all evil, as some would have you believe.

Rep. John Campbell R-Irvine or Newport Beach, which is it really?) rails against budget  earmarks and took none for CD-48 and since he’s my Congressman, thanks for much for your part in taking my tax dollars and giving nothing back to benefit the community and your district Congressman.

In a recent FlashReport column, Campbell wrote this about earmarks:

“It is not my job to give your money out to whomever I want simply because they made campaign contributions to me or otherwise curried my favor. The American people overwhelmingly agree with this position and believe earmarks are a corrupting function of the way government spends its money.

The earmark culture inside the DC beltway is so strong and pervasive that they would have you believe that earmarks are not indicative of a wider problem, which is incorrect. Earmarks are the poster child of wide spread government waste with a ‘pay to play’ mentality.”

I’m not sure where Campbell got his fact “the American people overwhelmingly agree with this position.” Maybe Adam Probolsky did a poll for him from a bar in Newport Beach.  But the fact of the matter is you have roughly the same amount of money, when cut from the budget, is laughed off as “fingernail clippings” when the same amountof money in budget earmarks (give or take a billkion depending on who you ask) that by-and-large benefit the communities with active representation in Congress is considered a poster child for “wide spread government waste.”


  2 comments for “Is $17 Billion a Lot of Money? More GOP Doublespeak

  1. Matthew Cunningham
    May 8, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    How about this, Dan. How about we NOT embark on an explosive, unprecedented federal spending binge and ratchet up the national debt to previously unimagined levels.

    Funny how I no longer hear lefties yammering about deficits. Suddenly, they don’t matter now that King Obama has been enthroned.

  2. Dan Chmielewski
    May 8, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    The explosive, unprecedented federal spending binge happened twice before under Republican rule (Reagan and Bush II) and there was hardly a peep about this. In this case, Bush left our economy in a shambles so the federal government had to step in. I know you’re a student of history so this approach is actually something advocated by Abraham Lincoln after the financial crisis of 1857; Lincoln believed when the free markets failed; it is the role the federal government to step in.

    And I totally forgot to bring up the $9 billion in shrink wrapped cash that went missing and unaccounted for in Iraq.

    The fact of the matter; if $17 billion in budget cuts are finger nail clipping, so are $18 billion in earmarks. And both help taxpayers.

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