Kim Strassel's column highlights how President Obama lost the first major political fight of his administration. This defeat was about the nexus of arrogance and bad policy. President Obama thought he could pick this fight, get his usual support from the NY Times, MSNBC and Media Matters, then intimidate Republicans into accepting another tax increase.
A strange thing happened on President Obama's latest political victory, though. Sen. Tom Coburn and Sen. Mike Lee started offering specifics on things the federal government is currently funding that shouldn't be funded.
Sen. Coburn has been appearing on every TV show that will have him to push his Sequester This agenda. These days, it appears as though lots of TV shows want him on because he's been on each day several times a day.
Lately, Sen. Lee has used graphics to show things that the federal government is currently funding that shouldn't get funded (food tasting extravaganzas in this Twitter picture) along side of cutting meat inspections.
When President Obama talked about sequestration, he talked about cutting meat inspections, TSA agents and border patrols. Sen. Lee simply questioned President Obama's priorities. By using Twitter, Sen. Lee said that USDA-sponsored food tasting extravaganzas should get cut, not food inspections.
It's a simple message that fires people up. It's one thing to talk about waste, fraud and abuse in general terms. It's another when people offer specific examples of wasteful spending, especially when it's contrasted with cutting important federal responsibilities.
Ms. Strassel highlighted some wasteful spending in her column:
We've learned that the White House employs three calligraphers, who cumulatively earn $277,000 a year. The Environmental Protection Agency gave $141,000 to fund a Chinese study on swine manure. Part of a $325,000 National Science Foundation outlay went to building a robotic squirrel.
The government gave a $3,700 grant to build a miniature street in West Virginia—out of Legos. It shelled out $500,000 to support specialty shampoo products for cats and dogs. A San Diego outfit got $10,000 for trolley dancing. The feds last year held 894 conferences that each cost more than $100,000—$340 million altogether. But Mr. Obama is too broke to let American kids look around the White House.
It's easy to say we should conduct meat inspections instead of spending $37,000 to build a miniature street in West Virginia or $10,000 for trolley dancing in San Diego or $277,000 on White House calligraphers.
President Obama signalled he wants to put this fight behind him ASAP by recently saying at a press conferece that he'll sign the continuing resolution that funds government at the end of this month.
That's because the polls show his job approval rating dropping precipitously. The longer this fight drags on, the worse the election results will be in 2014.