President Obama is set to announce a three-year “freeze” in non-security discretionary spending during his State of the Union as part of his efforts to convince independents that he cares about reducing the deficit. I say “freeze” in quotes, because some programs will go up, while some will go down — thus providing the Obama administration wiggle room to say that Obama isn’t reversing his position on an across the board freeze of the kind that he criticized John McCain for during the campaign. “An across-the-board spending freeze is a hatchet and we do need a scalpel because there are some programs that don’t work at all,” he said (video here).
My position is, yes, this is mainly a symbolic gesture — after all, the White House claims it would save $250 billion — less than a third of the cost of the economic stimulus bill alone. It’s only a temporary, three-year freeze that follows years of unprecedented spending and it comes as he’s pitching a jobs bill, which is essentially a second stimulus. In fact, spending in 2011 to 2013 will total $11.4 trillion, according to the mid-session review of Obama’s Office of Management and Budget.” But with that said, I think this is a good issue for conservatives — and also Republicans — to get behind rather than just reflexively oppose. Point out why it’s mainly cosmetic and doesn’t go far enough, say “I see you, and I raise you,” but still jump on any chance to reduce the growth in federal spending, however marginal.
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