In his weekly address on February 12 of this year, President Obama said:
A few months ago, I received a letter from a woman named Brenda Breece. I wanted to share her story because it speaks to what a lot of families are going through — and it offers a good example of the kind of responsibility that’s needed in Washington right now.
Brenda is a mom and a special-ed teacher from Missouri. Her husband, David, was employed at the local Chrysler plant for nearly four decades. They’ve worked hard their whole lives. But like a lot of folks, they’ve taken some hits over the past few years. When the Chrysler plant closed, David had to take early retirement. His pension helps, but it’s half of what he earned before. Meanwhile, because of budget cuts, Brenda has had to buy school supplies for her students out of her own pocket — because it’s her job and she cares about those kids.
Money has been tight, but they are doing the best they can. And like so many families, they are sacrificing what they don’t need so they can afford what really matters. This is what Brenda told me. “I feel my family is frugal,” she said. “We go to the movies. . . once a month, but usually we just wait for them to come out on TV. . . I watch the food budget. . .We combine trips into town [and] use coupons. . . and we trim each other’s hair when we need a haircut.”
So Brenda and her husband know what they can do without. But they also know what investments are too important to sacrifice. Their daughter, Rachel, is a sophomore in college with a 4.0 grade point average. The tuition is a big expense. But it’s worth it, because it will give her the chance to achieve her dreams. In fact, Brenda is looking for a second job to ensure “the money is there to help Rachel with her future.”
Families across this country understand what it takes to manage a budget. They understand what it takes to make ends meet without forgoing important investments like education. Well, it’s time Washington acted as responsibly as our families do. And on Monday, I’m proposing a new budget that will help us live within our means while investing in our future. . . .
If Bill Clinton once focused like a laser beam on the economy, then Barack Obama has focused like a laser beam on the deficit, and it has been a political and policy disaster. It’s idiotic to compare the federal budget to a family budget. A family can’t influence the economy the way a government can. So why has Barack Obama insisted on doing the Republicans’ work for them? It’s because he thinks it will appeal to “independent voters”. Well, that strategy hasn’t worked so far. All it has done is paint him into a rhetorical corner as he now calls for increased government action to boost the economy.
The White House would claim the president has always emphasized the importance of “investment”, but that’s not true. The proof is in the pudding. Obama’s dominant theme this year has been that government must, above all, “live within its means”. Jobs can wait.
“Eat your peas, America. Just like Uncle Sam.”