Peanuts

| Tue Feb. 2, 2010 11:53 AM EST

The LA Times provides a brief overview today of the programs President Obama wants to cut in order to freeze the overall level of domestic discretionary spending:

The familiar programs on the list this year include the C-17 cargo jet, a program to restore polluted industrial sites, a program for reclaimed coal mines and various scholarship programs.

....The cuts in mine grants never went anywhere last year. "We will do everything in our power to stop this attempted robbery again," Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis (R-Wyo.) said Monday.

Others on the termination list also have ready-made support. A website for Boeing's C-17 cargo plane notes that the program employs more than 30,000 people, with concentrations in Southern California, where the plane is made, and Missouri. A defense spending bill in December included $2.5 billion to buy 10 C-17s that the Pentagon did not request.

This is a familiar point, but always worth making one more time. The domestic discretionary budget is peanuts, and to make it even worse, elephants and donkeys1 both love peanuts. They won't give them up just because the president wants them to. So we'll likely end up with a peanut budget just as big as it was before — maybe bigger! — as cuts get added back into the budget while increases are happily accepted. Obama's spending freeze might be good PR, but it's lousy politics and lousy policy.

1OK, I don't really know whether donkeys like peanuts. Can someone find out for me? In the meantime, just roll with the image.