George Will describes Washington Math


On Sunday, the Washington establishment’s most erudite conservative voice, George Will, described Washington Math to a T on ABC’s “This Week”:

GEORGE WILL: Well, the post-partisan Obama of 2008 gave his inaugural speech in 2009 and, a couple weeks later, passed the stimulus bill with no Republican votes because it was simply a wish list of 30 years of Democratic longing. So I think it was a fairly perishable moment.

To me, Martha, the emblematic sentence from the speech was this. “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” The president lives in a parallel universe where a dollar spent on A can also be spent on B. There’s no scarcity, no choices involved. And for all the solicitude he expresses about the rising and coming generations, we’re not investing in them. We’re borrowing from them, because conveniently they’re not here and can’t object.

Be sure to check out the video at the link above – the video belongs to Real Clear Politics – and send it to your friends. This one little clip perfectly outlines how Washington thinks when it comes to spending your hard-earned money. Consider:

  • In a business, there is a limited amount of money available for all parts of a business. Money that goes into marketing can’t go into production. As Will points out, this is not a consideration in Washington – remember how the Affordable Care Act was going to both “save” $716 billion and spend the same amount on a new entitlement?
  • In a household, what can be spent is limited to what income is taken in, barring some exceptions for credit cards. In the federal government, it is clear our elected officials view money as a renewable resource, as something with no real limits. Of course, we will find out what those limits are if the economy recovers and interest rates increase, and when our creditors realize we can’t pay our debts.
  • If we are to focus on deficit reduction, America can’t afford to spend in new areas. Granted, this is clearly not a goal of the President’s, but given what his own Treasury Department is saying,  Americans need to realize cutting back federal spending is both necessary and – for many programs – a return to constitutional bounds.

Will is a decades-long member of the Washington establishment, but it has not dulled his ability to effectively undercut the way many of his colleagues think and act. President Obama appears particularly vulnerable to this form of Beltway Groupthink.