Debate-o-Matic: Is Obama's budget dishonest? Plus, is Twitter useful?

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Feb. 27 2009 6:21 PM

Twittering Past the Graveyard

Debate-o-Matic: Is Obama's budget dishonest? Plus, is Twitter useful?

President Obama Introduces FY2010 Federal Budget. Click image to expand.
Barack Obama

For President Obama, this week was all about the budget. He convened a fiscal responsibility summit on Monday, spoke to Congress on Tuesday about his ambitious plans for transforming government while reining in costs, and then on Thursday gave us an overview of his thinking by presenting his budget outline. As if that weren't enough, on Friday he announced his plan for ending the war in Iraq.

John Dickerson John Dickerson

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

To help you keep up with the debates swirling around the Obama presidency, Slate offers this guide to the issues of the week. Here is where the arguments stand on a few key topics.

Obama's Budget


It's a dishonest slide into socialism: It overstates the economic rebound and relies on gimmicks. The health care proposal alone will cost close to $500 billion more than he says. It includes $1 trillion in tax hikes to redistribute wealth. The president presents himself as being fiscally responsible, but he is preparing to balloon government spending. He says he won't raise taxes on the middle class, but his carbon tax is essentially an increase on taxes on the middle class. His promises to enforce strict budget rules are a joke. Look at what he's letting Congress get away with this week in its spending bill. Even the Senate Democratic budget chairman has concerns about the size of the debt Obama is pilling up.

It's an honest blueprint for change: Obama has expanded the budget timeline to 10 years, which forces Washington to consider the long-term impact of its choices. He doesn't hide annual expenditures like the Iraq war, the Alternative Minimum Tax patch, or disaster funding the way the Bush administration did. His health care plan is essential to economic recovery, because health care costs are booming, which affects the private sector and entitlement growth. His plans for health care and tax cuts are offset with politically brave spending reductions that irritate members of his own party.

Iraq Redeployment

It's not fast enough: Obama is breaking his campaign promise to have combat troops out of Iraq in 16 months. After 18 months, there will still be 50,000 troops in the country. You can call them noncombat troops if you like, but they'll still be involved in combat. Obama has also said he will reverse the order if the situation worsens in Iraq.

It's a prudent withdrawal: He promised to leave Iraq in a smarter fashion than the United States got into the war. That's what he's doing: being smart. The situation in Iraq is fragile. He's listening to his advisers who argued that the United States needed a heavy presence through the December elections and that it would take some time to pack up everything and go home.

The surge has succeeded: The troop increase that Barack Obama opposed as a senator, and the strategy behind it, has been a success. Let's hope the two commanders most responsible for the turnaround he opposed will be able to change the pace of withdrawal if necessary.


Oh, please, no more: At least with the hula hoop fad, someone was getting exercise. I prefer to talk to my real friends and have real experiences. Isn't this the complete fulfillment of Aldous Huxley's vision in Brave New World? We're amusing ourselves to death. One day we're going to wake up and every Twitter post will simply be, "Me, me, me, me." Outside will be a howling wilderness of shriveled civilization bereft of ideas and reason.

Relax. You're killing a fly with a shotgun. Nothing limited to 140 characters can do as much harm as you're suggesting. Plus, Shaq tweets!



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.