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Obama Threatens to Close Washington Monument


You could see it coming. Whenever a government official wants to prevent a cut to his budget he warns that he will have to take drastic actions if reductions are made. In Washington, DC parlance, he'll "have to close the Washington Monument" to visitors. This kind of talk is supposed to cow skeptical voters. Gosh, Joe Citizen is meant to think, "if they're going to close down the Washington Monument these cuts must really go too far!"

It's called "the Washington Monument syndrome" for that reason. It's a classic. And President Obama is employing it.

In reality the Washington Monument does not get closed down in Washington, DC fiscal fights, nor do other horrible things happen just because a budget is reduced.

In reality, indeed, the budget sequester coming up March 1 is only a drop removed from the ocean of red ink. It will help, but won't solve the problem of over-spending because the situation is far past the point it was when the sequester was devised (largely by the White House!) to force Congress and the President to reach an agreement on reduced deficit and debt. Given common sense, the OMB can find plenty of ways to reduce spending without hurting the country.

If it goes through, in any case, overall spending won't actually go down. It only will go up at a slower rate. In Washington politics (and media) a reduction to the growth rate of a program is still termed a "cut".

But, predictably, the President is threatening to close the Washington Monument, as it were, and the media so far are reporting his remarks credulously. Firemen and teachers are going to lose their jobs? Why? How? Aren't they paid at the local level? Next we'll be hearing that senior citizens aren't going to get their Social Security checks.

It's a ruse. It would be funny if it weren't taken seriously by the press.

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You can email brucechapman@discovery.org

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