Who Is This Guy? (The Time And Timing Side)

One other point about President Obama’s April 13 speech on fiscal policy struck me, and that was the whole question of time and timing.

The budget savings numbers cited by the President in his speech all were based on a 12-year period, rather than the 10-year period typically used in long-term budgeting.  For example, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s proposed budget, which the President sharply criticized in his speech, uses a 10-year period.  Why did the President use a 12-year period?  Because he wanted to say that he proposed roughly as much in deficit reduction as the Ryan plan, and a lot of the “savings” anticipated by the President occurs at the end of his 12-year period.  In my view, this is the kind of numbers gimmickry that shows a real lack of seriousness about the deficit issue.

Another interesting time and timing issue was raised when the President talked about a “failsafe” that would be part of his plan.  The President stated:  “But just to hold Washington — and to hold me — accountable and make sure that the debt burden continues to decline, my plan includes a debt failsafe.  If, by 2014, our debt is not projected to fall as a share of the economy -– if we haven’t hit our targets, if Congress has failed to act -– then my plan will require us to come together and make up the additional savings with more spending cuts and more spending reductions in the tax code.  That should be an incentive for us to act boldly now, instead of kicking our problems further down the road.”

I don’t follow this logic.  The “failsafe,” whatever it will be, isn’t triggered until 2014 — three years from now, after the President’s first term has long since ended.  Why would the possibility of actions in three years hold the President, or anyone else, “accountable” now, and why would it be “an incentive for [politicians] to act boldly now”?  With an election looming on the near horizon, and the parties already bickering and name-calling about just about everything, why would a distant, post-election deadline have any impact at all?  If a “debt failsafe” really is a good idea, how about invoking it now, so that voters can hold politicians “accountable” the way they should be held accountable in a democracy — through having to explain and justify their decisions in the election that is less than two years away?

President Obama’s fiscal policy is predicated on the notion that our continued deficits are a serious problem that must be addressed.  However, the time frames set at the end of his speech don’t seem to match the urgency expressed at the beginning of his speech.  Instead, the President seems to want to defer making the tough decisions that should be made immediately, while at the same time using words like “accountability” that test well with focus groups.  To me, that seems more like electioneering than leadership — and that is another reason why I found the President’s speech so disappointing.

Who Is This Guy?  (The Revenue Side)

Who Is This Guy?  (The Health Care Side)

Who Is This Guy?  (The Defense Side)

Who Is This Guy?  (The Spending Side)

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Friendly Faces In Faraway Places

When you are on the road, it is a real treat to be able to depart from the normal at-the-hotel routine and get together with friends and family.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Heidi, Larry (who had to leave before the picture above was taken), Miles, Max, Andrew, Patty, and Heidi’s dog Stella (whose name always makes me think of Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire bellowing “Stella!  Stelllllla!”).  We met at Heidi’s Long Beach pad, enjoyed an excellent feast of home-cooked Mexican fare, beer, and cupcakes, and had some spirited discussions about typically off-limit topics like religion and politics.  It was terrific to catch up and to see what my always-interesting nephews are doing with their lives.

Thanks for hosting the get-together, Heidi!  It made the trip a very special one.

North Market Lunching: Firdous Express

Your life has been a bit bland, you say?  Your dulled taste buds have a hankering for a little Mediterranean flavor, and you are hungry, besides?  Then wander over to the North Market to Firdous Express, across from Hubert’s Polish Kitchen, let your eyes feast on the many freshly made, piping hot, ever-changing entrees that are displayed beneath the glass, and know that you have come to the right place.

Firdous has something for just about everyone.  They feature stews and spicy concoctions made with chicken, lamb, and beef, a vast array of different vegetables, different salad options and rice options, excellent hummus, and pita bread.  As is true throughout the North Market, lunch is reasonably priced, and you get great value for your buck.  Lunch at Firdous, with drink, comes in at about $10, and for that you get an entree over rice and a salad or hummus with pita bread.  (Guess which I pick?)

When I visit Firdous I usually favor a tender, cubed chicken in a lemony sauce that tastes fantastic over a bed of rice and lentils.  On my most recent trip, however, I decided to branch out and went for a delicately spiced stew of meat and tomatoes, along with my standard side of rice and lentils and creamy hummus and pita bread.  It was excellent — I’d expected nothing less — and I left a happy man.

North Market Lunching:  Hubert’s Polish Kitchen

North Market Lunching:  Nida’s Sushi

North Market Lunching:  Kitchen Little