Editor, U.S. News & World Report
You report that President Obama today "challenged" his cabinet to "cut the budget by $100 million" ("Obama to Cabinet: Cut $100 Million from Budget," April 20). What courage. A President who proclaims the importance of making "hard choices" calls upon his government to trim away a whopping one thirty-six-thousandth of its projected expenditures for the year - or, alternatively reckoned, one twelve-thousandth of its projected budget deficit.
To put this budget "cut" in perspective, suppose that the typical American family, earning $50,000 annually, plans this year to run a budget deficit proportionate to the deficit that Uncle Sam will run. Such a family would plan to spend $75,000. Now suppose that this family, seeking to signal its faux-commitment to financial prudence, promises spending cuts equal, in proportion to its budget, to the cuts announced today by Mr. Obama.
This family would declare - surely with much fanfare - that it will reduce its planned expenditures by $2.09! Perhaps it might promise to survive the year with one less gallon of gasoline or with one less cup of coffee.
Who would take such a gesture to be anything other than audaciously insulting sarcasm by the chronically irresponsible?
Donald J. Boudreaux
Don Boudreaux is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and a Business & Media Institute adviser.