Sunday, November 21, 2010

Superfluous Spending is Stupid Regardless of the Actual Total

Hyperbole often leads to people actually missing the point.

There was this big hubaloo a couple weeks ago regarding whether or not an Administration trip to India was costing the taxpayers $200 million per day.

The local newspaper included a reprint of Thomas Friedman's op-ed piece (with a new title), "Never Let Facts Get in Way of Bashing Obama."

This column does an excellent job of praising Anderson Cooper for finding the truth (a.k.a. doing his job). The column also does an excellent job of pointing out how shameful it was for House Representative Michele Bachmann to have used the information prior to actually checking the facts (and the subsequent use of the misinformation by conservative radio hosts). "All you can hope is that more people will do what Cooper did - so when the next crazy lie races around the world, people's first instinct will be to doubt it, not repeat it."

I agree, people need to check their facts - that's why was created!

Unfortunately, the morale of the story - wasted spending - was completely overlooked by the fact that some moron jacked up the figures.

Anderson Cooper was able to find a ballpark figure on how much the President's trip to India DID cost the taxpayers. Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary, was quoted as saying, "[This trip] is comparable to when President Clinton and when President Bush traveled abroad. This trip does not cost $200 million a day."

Cooper then pointed out that "Clinton's 1998 trip to Africa - with 1300 people and of roughly similar duration, cost, according to the Government Accountability Office and adjusted for inflation, 'about $5.2 million a day."

If the initial reporting regarding the trip to India would have said that the trip was costing the American taxpayer $5.2 million a day, we could have had outrage at the fact that the President was wasting our tax dollars on something extremely superfluous. Unfortunately, the story became about the exaggeration and about malicious journalism aimed at "bashing Obama."

From what I could tell, he spent two nights in India. At $5.2 million per day, that totals at least $10.4 million.

For whatever it's worth, I am outraged that millions of dollars were spent to send the President to India to talk about economic growth (a.k.a. outsourcing). This could have been done over the telephone.

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