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Obama's hard truth: Americans must consume less

One of the odder political subplots of President Obama's term so far has been his relationship with the tourism-dependent city of Las Vegas. A year ago, Obama irked Nevadans by demanding that corporations not use federal bailout money for trips to Vegas. A couple of weeks ago he infuriated them again by telling a New Hampshire audience to save their cash for college instead of “blowing” it in Vegas. No Nevadans were more annoyed, of course, than the state's Democratic politicians, among them Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who faces an uphill fight for re-election this fall.

So now the president is falling all over himself to make amends. He stopped in Nevada Friday, where he rolled out some new federal housing aid and urged people to, indeed, live it up in Sin City. “He's spending some money here in Vegas,” Obama told one town meeting, pointing to a tourist from Arkansas in the audience. “That's good! We like to see that!”

Frankly, I think the president had it right the first time. It was undoubtedly impolitic for him to single out Las Vegas, rather than, say, Atlantic City, as a particularly wasteful destination. But as an objective matter, his broader point is correct: Americans need to tighten their belts -- for quite a while, probably. During the boom, the ratio of household debt to household income reached 128 percent in 2008, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, far more than leading economic competitors such as Germany, Japan or China. This burden was concentrated most heavily on the middle class, McKinsey notes. And the proof that it was not sustainable is all around us, in the form of personal bankruptcy filings and foreclosures.

The more difficult question is whether this is a reality America should merely endure or actively embrace. For generations, we have built our economy on ever-increasing consumption, with the result (among others) that a metropolitan area of two million people has arisen over the last 40 years in the Nevada desert -- based essentially on hedonism.

Far more important, perhaps, than his inconsistent observations about Vegas, is the fact that Obama seems to favor the latter option, embracing a less consumption-oriented economic future. In a speech marking the anniversary of his stimulus plan, he observed that “the jobs of the 21st century are in areas like clean energy and technology, advanced manufacturing, new infrastructure. That kind of economy requires us to consume less and produce more; to import less and export more.”

Let me repeat that: “consume less and produce more.” When was the last time you heard an American president tell his people such a thing?

Barely noticed by the media, Obama's remark nevertheless implies an historic shift in U.S. economic policy, with all that could entail for federal taxes and spending, trade with other nations, and the lifestyle of the average American family.

To be sure, this vision is difficult to square with the stimulus plan itself, which relied on short-term government aid to bolster consumer spending. Otherwise, the U.S. economy would have fallen victim to the “paradox of thrift,” in which individuals' perfectly rational and necessary belt-tightening produces a societally disastrous collapse in aggregate demand.
But to the extent Obama was speaking about the long-term, I think he meant what he said.

Better book that trip to Vegas while you still can.

By Charles Lane  | February 19, 2010; 5:47 PM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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Alas, telling Americans that they are poorer is not a winning electoral scheme. Furthermore, obfuscating that reality is part and parcel of the Democratic platform. The fact is that the economic collapse was brought about by the failure of petroleum supply to keep up with the increasing consumption of humanity. Growth is still happening in China and they are eating our lunch at the gas pump. Giving the public this dose of economic reality simply does not fit in with Obama's plans for reelection.

Posted by: edbyronadams | February 19, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

"Obama's hard truth: Americans must consume less".

Of course we must, first, because the social democrat government Obama desperately wants to foist upon America must consume ever more, and, second, because his socialist programs will drag the economy down, making us all poorer in the process.

That's the bad news. The good news is that we can take comfort in not using more than our fair share of the earth's resources, since we, too, will be living at a third world level.

Posted by: RUKidding0 | February 19, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Where should Americans begin in their forthcoming spartan consumption patterns? I'd recommend newspapers. Fewer editors, columnists, reporters, etc., but so what? Just think of all of the trees that will be saved! Ahhhh, I feel better already! Perhaps Obama would have been wiser to single out Washington, D.C., instead of Las Vegas or Atlantic City, " as a particularly wasteful destination ". Most Americans would agree with that conclusion. Wisdom, however, isn't an Obama administration strength.

Posted by: dixieboy | February 19, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Great comments so far. Couldn't say it better. Obama is all about losing policies of government growth, entitlement, redistribution of wealth and weak, dangerous foreign policy of inaction.

Posted by: 2009frank | February 19, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Government is the in most cases the most inefficient, ineffective sector in our economy. Union led labor is a close second.

So in Obama's "perfect world", everyone BUT the civil service, union and teacher bureaucracies will have to "tighten" their belts. Sounds like a prescription for revolution, not for "change that we can believe in".

Posted by: neilc38 | February 20, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

This is a bold and wise column, placing a lot of blame where a lot of blame is due: on average Americans.

I must part company with Mr. Lane, though, when he argues that federal stimulus spending at the moment is a wrong-headed continuating of the habit of living above our means.

Sometimes markets become a self-defeating feedback loop which would eventually leave everyone except Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Marion Barry unemployed. 1930, 1982 and 2009 strike me as cases in point.

Only federal deficit spending can end the howl emanating from cleverly devised Wall Street investment devices that act like financial microphones held real close to individual bankruptcies.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | February 20, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the commenters! Government sucks and has given us nothing, other than roads, clean air, clean water, a postal service, education, a national defense, subsidies on about a million other things we take for granted, and generally a society we can live in. But god forbid we return taxes to a Clinton-era level, because that will be the downfall of life as we know it!!!!

Posted by: jaycane40oz | February 20, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

Consume less, produce more and I would add save more. We ought to match the European savings rate of around 15 - 16%.

Posted by: MNUSA | February 20, 2010 3:21 AM | Report abuse

Let's start with the govt. They can send the right message by stopping spending like drunken sailors (sorry that's actually being unkind to drunken sailors). Also, drunken sailors are at least spending their own money rather than our money.
OR, we can set up a committee on how to the govt can save money (ooops, does that not mean spending more of our money to do so????)
The good news is that the State govts are now legislating to mitigate the craziness of the Federal govt. Sorry Barry, USofA is simply not ready for socialism. One term Barry will no doubt blame Joe Public when he writes his memoirs for being too stoooopid to understand how he was only trying to help us (or should that be his main adviser, SEIU).......

Posted by: ftbuta | February 20, 2010 5:02 AM | Report abuse

The condescending advice to young people put thousands out of work. Obama should try to control his hubris and arrogance in thinking he must explain to people that gambling their money away is not a good idea. How dumb does he think they are? Very dumb if they voted for BigBrother.

Posted by: mharwick | February 20, 2010 6:00 AM | Report abuse

patronizing, disdainful, supercilious.

con·de·scend   [kon-duh-send] Show IPA
–verb (used without object)
to behave as if one is conscious of descending from a superior position, rank, or dignity.
to stoop or deign to do something: He would not condescend to misrepresent the facts.
to put aside one's dignity or superiority voluntarily and assume equality with one regarded as inferior: He condescended to their intellectual level in order to be understood.

Obama's photo appears next to these definitions.

Posted by: mharwick | February 20, 2010 6:04 AM | Report abuse

AFI and limousines and staff and secret service used to transport our President every day to some event on the taxpayers dime is contra indicated in these tough times. He goes to Las Vegas, the Mayor calls him out on job losses due to his threats against the corporations and now the students, and why is he there? To inspect Yucca Mountain that he closed for Harry Reid and cannot use for nuclear waste? NO. He is there to support the unsupportable election of Harry Reid.

Posted by: mharwick | February 20, 2010 6:07 AM | Report abuse

The hypocrisy and arrogance of this President is chilling. He and his cronies have spent and wasted so much. The Stimulus I was not designed to create jobs. It was the cruelest joke on the citizens of this land at the worst possible time. It was a payoff of special interests and these little clowns pulled this phony number out of the air to defend this garbage having no problem lying.We are sick of this hypocrisy watching Obama waste billions and preaching to us to cinch our belts. You cannot honestly believe we buy this phony dribble.
The best way we can cinch our belts is to make this clown a one term President. The man cannot be trusted. His words ring hollow. He has no problem lying and blaming everyone else for exactly what he does. He is delusional and so are his comrades Reid and Pelosi.

Posted by: greatgran1 | February 20, 2010 6:43 AM | Report abuse

Where are Obama's handlers? Haven't they figured out by now that he doesn't think before he speaks and continually injects personal opinion in all the wrong places?

Then he falls all over himself trying to make up for his faux pax.


Someone needs to sit down with the man and impress on him that Americans are capable of independent thinking and his Master of the Plantation style of governance is offensive.

Posted by: asmith1 | February 20, 2010 7:00 AM | Report abuse

"Americans must consume less" - This is a ridiculous, asinine statement to be sure. We should shrink our GDP and bend over for the government consumption done on our behalf? Sorry Lane but you probably should move to Greece. You are in the wrong country.

Posted by: hz9604 | February 20, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

I thought the Mayor of Las Vegas was more annoyed.

The fact that anyone makes an issue out of this is nothing short of pathetic. If someone wants to blow their children's college funds in Vegas they can and will do so.

Re. Americans are capable of independent thinking. Every editorial and op-ed piece is written to tell you what you should be thinking. Rush tells you what you should be thinking; as does Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly. Do you really think the term "ditto heads" emerged to reflect the independent thinkers of America?

Do you think that it's just coincidence that the politicians and pundits of the GOP use EXACTLY the same phrases on a particular issue? Do you think they believe you're independent thinkers or do you think that sooner or later you'll parrot the same phases?

Do you think that when Fox News puts up on their screen that Mark Foley, Larry Craig and Mark Sanford are Democrats it's just an accident?

Posted by: James10 | February 20, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

There's an interesting conflict here. In order to get out of the current economic mess, we have to consume more, not less. This is basically Keyensian theory, and the government deficits are the result of the need to replace consumer spending with government spending in order to recover lost jobs, which in turn lead to more consumer spending and an upward economic cycle. The economy is being held back by the classic paradox of thrift, that just when we need more spending, people individually are behaving rationally and cutting back. Worse, states have no choice but balance their budgets by cutting back on spending, which typically means cuts in education and infrastructure.
The immediate need is for spending in any form, as long as the money stays in circulation. For that purpose, spending on entertainment is as good as any other type of expenditure. In the long run though, we have to reestablish priorities. As soon as possible, we have to redirect spending to areas of long term investment -- to the education, energy efficiency, roads and bridges that will reduce long term expenses and provide future benefits.

The challenge is that this redirection of priorities requires a serious re-education of the electorate. Since many of these activities are government funded, these goals are contrary to the anti-tax movement. Since they disrupt current patterns of consumer spending, some job dislocation is inevitable. Perhaps the immediate need is to explain basic economics, but the mood of the electorate, and the right wing populists, is running against that goal, while the rules of the Senate make implementation of programs more difficult. Still, the only way out is both to spend more, and to spend more wisely.

Posted by: su10 | February 20, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Here's some truth for Obama, Lane and the rest who lecture Americans about tightening their belts. Our problems were not caused by a crisis in household budgets. We will take care of our own budgets, thank you very much. Obama's job is to tighten the government's belt. Cut spending. Stop bailouts. Cut the debt. Cut taxes. Get the government out of our businesses. And forget about economic/social transformation. Just get out there and fix the potholes. Got it? Clearly, not. But you will get the message in November.

Posted by: ringo2 | February 20, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Very seldom do I agree with Obama but his initial comments about Vegas were obviously correct and truthful. It's a shame that he's now lying when he says spending cash in Vegas is a good thing.

I also agree that we'd be better off if we were less materialistic. As a healthful side effect, if families only had one parent working outside the home, tax revenues would decline and our out of control government would have to downsize. It's rare for this libertarian to agree with our collectivist/statist president.

Posted by: hit4cycle | February 20, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

When Nevadans promote LV as "Sin City" and "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas", they should not be so thin-skinned. Now, if people are stupid enough to go blow their savings on gambling and/or visiting prozs, that's their problem. As long as they don't come back whining that they cannot afford to educate their children...

Posted by: Gatsby10 | February 20, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Ha ha ha ah ha haha Thats a good one Obamas truth telling.Very funny very funny.

Posted by: Imarkex | February 20, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Here's a guy who has his PERSONAL PIZZA MAKER flown in to D.C. when the urge for a slice hits him. A guy who satisfies his appetite, with STEAKS of KOBE BEEF, IRANIAN CAVIAR, the biggest of LOBSTERS, and washes them all down with FLUTES of CHAMPAGNE. He flies off to HAWAII for Vacation. Plays GOLF, on the BEST (most expensive) Golf Courses. Spends THOUSANDS on Date Night. All of this, paid for, with OUR MONEY. And now, we're supposed to pay attention, to his lecturing the rest of us, on how to spend OUR MONEY.
Another example of Sir Narcissist, talking, to hear his own voice. We don't HAVE any money, Mr. Idiot. We have MORTGAGES to pay for. We were,'t able to get a sweet deal from a CROOK, like TONY REZKO, like YOU DID. So we're not taking vacations, and running around the country, like YOU DO. We don't have jobs, and we WON'T HAVE JOBS, because you have NO IDEA how things work. Anything.
You think you can SPEND your way out of DEBT? If that's TRUE, shouldn't you be ENCOURAGING US TO SPEND MORE? Or does it only work for YOU? You think you can TAX your way to prosperity. You don't seem to realize that we live in a GLOBAL ECONOMY. That's why EVERYBODY hit the fan, at the same time. So, in 2010, there's no reason for ANY company, to stay here and take it. (I hear that SINGAPORE is nice this time of year.) You keep telling us that things are getting better. Yet the price of GOLD keeps going up. CHINA is dumping our BONDS. Soon, they'll demand MORE $ to borrow from them. Weak Dollar. Massive Trade Deficits. Flatlined Economy. Higher Interest Rates. Higher Taxes. More Regulation. More Gov't. Control.
And your answer is WHAT?
Right. WE THE PEOPLE should spend less.
Quick. Somebody make a space for that NOBEL PRIZE for Economics, up there next to the PEACE PRIZE.
We will never survive THREE MORE YEARS of this.

Posted by: GoomyGommy | February 20, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I suggest that we retain our normal spending habits as we're able to afford to do so, with the exception being that we only consume domestic manufactured product.
I don't need to be reminded that our choices of product will be limited.
I don't believe that we'll become the first nation to have a robust economy without a strong manufacturing base, and I don't believe that anyone else should either.

Posted by: reenie10 | February 20, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Obama haters take note. Complaining about Obama's "reckless" spending without recognizing George W's contribution to the deficit is complaining about the splinter in the eye of your neighbor. Obama did not have much choice; the economy was going down fast, and government spending was what prevented another Great Depression. You see, Obama actually understands economics. His predecessor cut taxes at the same time he waged two wars, which was the primary reason our deficits got out of control (a contributing factor were the Reagan years, when huge increases in defense expenditures were again coupled with tax cuts). So if you are complaining about Obama's running up the deficit, I hope you are also complaining about George W and Reagan's contributions. It's not like Obama was handed a budget surplus and a sound economy when he took office that he then squandered....oh, that's right, that would describe George W....

Posted by: kjames196 | February 20, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

So, first he bashes Vegas and then he praises it. First he was for campaign finance, then he wasn't. First he was for closing Gitmo, now he isn't. First he was going to try terrorists in New York, now he won't. It isn't that he's wishy-washy - it's that he is a bald-faced liar, empowered by the adoration of the unthinking. Let's just call the next Dem convention Zombievention, "Obama is god. Obama is god. uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh"

Posted by: grohlik | February 20, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

When is Oblama going to start following his own advice? The federal government needs to consume less. When is someone at the WP going to start taking him to task for the lies? It amazes me the the MSM worships what is basically a teleprompter-reading monkey.

Posted by: mgrantham2 | February 20, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

The writer edited Obama's message.

Yes, the message is Americans must tighten the belts UNLESS

- They belong to labor unions (think UAW) who contributed big money to the campaign,

- They belong to government worker unions who contributed big, big money to the campaign.

So, you think the message is going to work?

Good luck with that!


Posted by: TECWRITE | February 20, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Great comments so far. Couldn't say it better. Obama is all about losing policies of government growth, entitlement, redistribution of wealth and weak, dangerous foreign policy of inaction.

Posted by: 2009frank | February 19, 2010 10:59 PM
That comment is spot off.

Posted by: Emmetrope | February 20, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

"Obama's truth-telling?" The man has already told so many lies and mistatements that "Obama" and "truth," are two entirely incomaptible words. This is the result of Americans cheering all the high-flown nonsense this clever politician fed us during his electoral campaign. Making fancy speeches is a lot easier than governing.

Posted by: mhr614 | February 20, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

"Obama's truth-telling?" The man has already told so many lies and mistatements that "Obama" and "truth," are two entirely incomaptible words. This is the result of Americans cheering all the high-flown nonsense this clever politician fed us during his electoral campaign. Making fancy speeches is a lot easier than governing.

Posted by: mhr614 | February 20, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Obama's crooked ways:

He said "Health care debates will be on C-Span" Didn't happen. instead democratic discussions behind closed doors with bribes. But... The democrats lost, so now he's ready for public debate.

He said don't blow money in Vegas. It backfired on him, so now he goes to Vegas and recommends spending money in Vegas.

He's not qualified for community organizer, let alone President.

Posted by: Billw3 | February 20, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

forget politics on the desert for now!!
we need to dismantle las vegas - and pheonix as well - too many people and not enough water is causing a much bigger problem below the surface than anyone is letting on. surface water problems are well documented and yet, still not being dealt with appropriately. the below ground issues are being purposely hidden from the public.

Posted by: boblesch | February 20, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

grohlik said:
"So, first he bashes Vegas and then he praises it. First he was for campaign finance, then he wasn't. First he was for closing Gitmo, now he isn't. First he was going to try terrorists in New York, now he won't. It isn't that he's wishy-washy - it's that he is a bald-faced liar, empowered by the adoration of the unthinking."

He is untrustwirthy to the point of needing to resign.

Posted by: Billw3 | February 20, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Mr. Lane we are clearly guilty of excesses. We Americans are certainly a country of split personalities. Our government (esp. congress) and our businesses send such mixed messages that it is difficult to know what road to follow. We are told we need to save more to lower our debt burden, but at the same time we are told to spend more to charge up the economy. We are pilloried for the over use of charge cards, but the banks beg us daily to sign up for more (b/c they rake in such big money with high interest rates). We are chastised for making bad decisions on highly leveraged mortgages, yet mortgage companies continue to lure us in by having to put no money down. We are getting fat on fast food and are told to eat healthier, yet you cannot drive 2 miles without passing at least 10 fast food establishments with super-sized value meals. Okay, we have shown over and over again we fall victim to temptation while at the same time we are taken advantage of. Our country is at the crossroads of self responsibility and exploitation. It seems to paralyze us and send us scurrying in all directions with no clear cut plan of action. There is no consistent message delivered by anyone. In the end I think it makes us all more cynical and skeptical, while we still keep cramming down those Big Macs.

Posted by: citizen4truth1 | February 20, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Our problems were not caused by a crisis in household budgets. We will take care of our own budgets, thank you very much. Cut spending. Stop bailouts. Cut the debt. Cut taxes. Get the government out of our businesses. And forget about economic/social transformation. Just get out there and fix the potholes. Got it? Clearly, not. But you will get the message in November.
Posted by: ringo2 | February 20, 2010 8:42 ----------------------------
Classic nonsense.

Most Americans can't budget -- if they could, household debt would not exceed household income.

Cut taxes, but fix potholes and reduce debt. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Debt will not go down and potholes will not be fixed without money to do it.

Posted by: mnjam | February 20, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

If most people are in a financial problem, they go to their boss and ask for a raise and/or cut spending. The country is in a similar situation. It should go to its boss -- namely us -- and raise taxes AND cut spending. Unlike most of the writers to this, I do not think Obama is too far to the left. On the contrary, he is way to far to the right in my opinion. I would like to see him do what FDR did to take us out of an even greater depression. Start up federal projects. Do NOT in any way, shape, or form allow the states to get their hands on the money. Have people hired by the FEDERAL government to build roads and bridges, etc. Look at the parks, buildings, etc. that we still have because of the federal money that got people working in the 30's. We have allowed those on the right to stiffle so many good ideas over the years that we have ended up in this situation including by eliminating some great laws that served us so well for decades until we foolishly gave in to the notion that we had to let the "free market" control our fate. That notion is an article of faith for many people, but I do not want my fate in the hands of an abstraction that is manipulated by people who claim they want competition and then buy up other companies to get a monopoly. How stupid do they think we are?

Look at health care. These people who take big money from insurance companies claim that the private sector is so much more efficient and then have an overhead 10 times that of Medicare (30% vs 3%). It does not take a genius to figure out that if a company is going to skim a profit off the top that it will cost more than a non-profit. I can understand why the greedy who profit from this system want to claim that we are better off giving our money to them, but what I cannot understand is how many people such as many writers here suspend all common sense and just parrot these talking points.

I am also not sure why so much is aimed personally at the president. As I said, I will criticize him for trying too much to appease the right, but I would never make it personal any more than I would to the many posters here who, I think, are writing in favor of things that are in the best interests of people giving themselves 7 figure bonuses but not for the good of the country.

Posted by: TomfromNJ1 | February 20, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Well, if we are going to belt-tighten, let's start at the top and let that one trickle on down.

Posted by: SarahBB | February 20, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Las Vegas is the opposite of everything Obama fought for as a community activist. He hates rich people who spend their wealth in what he considers foolish ways.

Obama -- breaks promises, smiles for camera, bankrupts America, blames all on Bush, bows to the world.

Posted by: cpameetingbook | February 20, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

As I recall he initially singled out Las Vegas because some of the bailout money that was handed over to financial institutions was being spent there unnecessarily. Atlantic City was not one of those destinations. I agree with him on that point.

Posted by: infuse | February 20, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Republicans have been promoting for the last 30 years that people can borrow, consume more and produce less with the magic of tax cuts and deregulations. Finally, that caught up with us, resulting in financial catastophy. After a year, they are back at it agian.

Posted by: ak1967 | February 20, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

By the way Washington Post, you do realize that MARXISTS from Europe, from Soviet Russia to present day Socialist Western Europe have been saying that Americans need to learn to consume less for decades?

You do realize this don't you?

Naw! He ain't no communist. Can't be, no way, no how. And the Washington Post "proclaiming" this as "truth." Naw, there ain't no Socialist influences at the Post. Can't be, no way, no how.

Posted by: Indpnt1 | February 20, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see one plausible idea from a conservative post, there are plenty of fingers of blame, mostly unwarranted, and excuses as to why Reaganomics and the conservative vision has always failed. The American people are sheep led to slaughter by those in power, preying on their prejudices GOP and Dems alike. They are the gov't of the connected, for the connected and of the connected waving the flag wrapped cross, and hatred bias against jews, muslims, gays, immigrants, race and communists. Sadly most people are too blinded by the Francis Bacon idols to know they are being played.

Posted by: jameschirico | February 20, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Comments on written bias. edbyronadams:Dems are liars, RUKidding0&ftbuta:anti-socialist/communist, dixieboy:Obama is stupid, 2009frank:Bad CIC (opposite is true),
mharwick:Arrogant & condescending, greatgran1:Obama can't be trusted, neilc38:anti-union, douglaslbarber:anti-Wall St (the least of biases here), James10:conservative media, lies (true but not always), jaycane40oz:Clinton was great, MNUSA:A return to 50's America, reenie10:same as MNUSA with better understanding, kjames196:GOP fiscally wrong (Bush41 moved too late), mhr614:Obama always lies, Billw3:Unqualified crook president, boblesch: Truth but off subject, mnjam:Most Americans can't budget (a large some but not most), TomfromNJ1:Capitalists are all bloodsuckers (Most but not all), SarahBB:government's elite (heck let them pay themselves 2 million a year if they stop taking care of their friends), cpameetingbook:Obama hates the rich (not one policy from election playbook enacted), my own:people getting played and not seeing the truth.

Posted by: jameschirico | February 20, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Ideologs like the intern in the Oval Office, Nancy Pelosi, and Al Gore hardly are good examples of conserving our resources. Their frequent jet travels (including Pelosi's $100,000 liquor bill) smack of elitist snobbery. While millions of citizens must use food banks to feed their families, the anointed one sponsors numerous celebrity chef dinners and cocktail parties at the White House, and then engages his spouse in a program of eating sensibly. These hypocrite's words fall on deaf ears.

Posted by: nmg3rln | February 20, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

OMG. The ignorance and racism overflows like putrid water from the clogged toilets of the minds of some... And the right says it's NOT racist: "Someone needs to sit down with the man and impress on him that Americans are capable of independent thinking and his Master of the Plantation style of governance is offensive." So sad.

According to the constant complainers, Obama's troubles with Vegas began in early 2009, when he "attacked Vegas" the first time.

Let's set the stage: Wells Fargo Bank took $25 billion dollars of TARP funds. Referring to a 12 day junket to Las Vegas planned for its executives, the President said, and I quote: "You can't take a trip to Las Vegas or down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime." And you guys object to that comment because... why now?
Because you WANT your taxes to fund a really cool 12 day vacation to Vegas for bankers? REALLY?

Later, the President, speaking about the need for government to tighten its spending, said, "“When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.” (Funny - boat manufacturers weren't offended by the comment...)

But you object to this (true) statement because... you feel that you SHOULD blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you're trying to save for college? The mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, thinks you should: "That's outrageous. He owes us an apology. He owes us a retraction." REALLY? Goodman, and Vegas, would benefit greatly by you blowing your kid's college fund on the tables. Would you or your kid benefit? Hell no. You'd have a great trip, from which you would recover in a week or so, but your remorse, and your kid's, would last a lifetime.

Goodman, you owe US an apology! Your president spoke the truth - IF you are saving for college, you DO NOT go blowing a bunch of cash in Vegas, or in Atlantic City, or anywhere else in America. It is neither wrong, nor un-American, to prioritize.

Posted by: borntorun45 | February 20, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

GoomyGommy - Where, may I ask, do you read the crap you're spouting? Have you checked on ANY of this misinformation? Proof please, otherwise, sit down and shut up.

Posted by: borntorun45 | February 20, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Isn't part of the Marxist mantra that American's consume too much of the worlds wealth? That in order for poorer nations to be able to consume more, American's need to consume less?

Of course this is a misunderstanding of WHERE wealth is created. And to whom deserves that wealth after it is created. Namely, those who CREATE wealth, naturally deserve to CONSUME that wealth.

Mr. Lane, could you do us all a favor? Please take some economics courses. Please. And also, could you realize that the ideas Obama espouses, to which you call "truth" is nothing more than ages old Communist propaganda. Please Mr. Lane, get some education that is not leftist centered.

Posted by: Indpnt1 | February 20, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to have to agree with jaycane40oz here. The rest of you--time to turn off Fox, take a walk or something.

Posted by: Bertilak | February 20, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

All politicians pander to their constituents, get a clue!!! Bush and Obama are no different. Still I always enjoy the condescending attitude of the supposed "Liberal elite". The policy of all past administrations has been to increase the power of the government. With Democrats the reason is obvious,they get votes from teachers, government employees and welfare recipients. The pseudo Republicans get their's from religous wackos and knee-jerk "conservatives". Unfortunately for the Left however their claims are the most delusional. Take a look at the latest Pew poll. The demographics are illustrative. The least informed groups of Americans are: women and the young (I appoligize, completely politically incorrect), exactly the groups Obama is pandering to. Independants and Republicans scored equally poorly at 57% correct on average, but still 10% better than the Democrat's base. All this shows is the laziness of the electorate, and it's no big secret to me why we are in the mess we're in. We have more spending that any country in the world on "education" with the least knowlegable population. We have more "feel good" causes based on pure emotion than anywhere else in the world. For example the EPA and the "Green" movement. I am old enough to remember what cities like St. Louis, K.C. and Pittsburg were like before the Clean Air Act. A little money went a long way in addressing real environmental problems. Now we have a hugh bureacracy that invents problems (greenhouse gases, co2 regulations) to justify their bloated budgets, damn the economy. We have destroyed manufacturing, resource production and basic industry in this country pandering to the Left. More regulation? We have the highest corporate taxes in the world. Only the largest business organizations can afford the burden of this hidden taxation and regulation, and then the Left whines about what they caused. Americans had better wake up, politicians are ruining the economy. All politicians what more control over your lives. You will have to live with less, except for the truly intelligent hardworking who take advantage of the system both the political parties have given us, thus the intellegent and hard working will get richer, the working stiffs poorer. Some of us well educated independant enterpreneurs will find more friendly business environments to develope our ideas. I talk to more like minded people everyday. For the masses, regardless of what any politician tells you, you will pay more taxes, you will have a lower standard of living, the government will debase the money and spend whatever savings you have, just keep voting for more of the same!!!

Posted by: independent25 | February 20, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

At least Jimmy Carter wore a cardigan when he told us to turn down our thermostats.

Posted by: elgropo1 | February 20, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Since when to the Lanes of the world
decide what Americans can and should buy?

Does this nasty little zionist propose to
dictate to middle America?
You can tell what he is by his readership here. Disgusting.

Posted by: whistling | February 20, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

The human race, particularly the US, needs to consume less. The planet cannot support the current wasteful behavior. Probably no more than 500 million people could live the way we do in a sustainable way. We have to orient production to things that last. Prior to WWII, most things were built this way. We also have to do many, many other things in order to avoid terrible resource conflicts and severe environmental degradation, but I won't get into that.

Posted by: independent123 | February 20, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Let's see, "Americans must consume less" while the government spends more. Wasn't that what Lenin and Stalin said?

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Posted by: fdgreyrtireyryuhtiytit | February 20, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

It would surely be news to Benjamin Franklin, not to mention Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and the like to learn that "consume less, produce more" is a subversive ploy used by Democrats to defend big government and put Republicans down.

I guess all the managers of "light industry" factories in rural USA, who often force laborers to work 10 hours a day six and seven days a week in order to keep their jobs, are closet Democrats.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | February 20, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

“consume less and produce more.”

but if we produce more and consume less we will need new international markets.
China is first exporter in the world and Germany is the second ,i think we have to stop producing in China or India what we could do in the USA...

Posted by: jeanbarre | February 21, 2010 6:18 AM | Report abuse

The problem is that our household budget has been managed just fine, thank you very much. We don't take big vacations every year, we save for the ones we do take. We have college savings -- that took a huge hit in 2008, right when one kid needed the money.

So take your lecture, buddy, and direct it to the big spenders -- the ones in charge. And a question -- how's your own personal belt tightening going?

Posted by: bethIllinois | February 21, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Tighten our belts? A lot of us have tightened our belts just about as far as we can. Meanwhile, the DC Deadweights are bankrupting us without a second thought.

Obama has been known to keep the thermostat at 80 in the Oval Office, while people in America are freezing without any power. By the way, why hasn't he visited any of these places? Bush was excoriated for his fly-over over Katrina. But hot-house flower Obama has yet to visit any scene, either this year of last. Can you say BIAS?

Obama spends hundreds of thousands on weekly White House parties and date nights with his wife and failed trips to Copenhagen to tout his adopted city of Chicago for the Olympics.

We the People have recognized the need to tighten our belts. When are the people in DC going to wise up?

Posted by: rocks1 | February 21, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Wow. If the majority of the commenters here represent what a majority of Americans really believe, that's alarming. A belligerent power, bankrupted by war, whose ethnically 'authentic' core population mixed up its hatred for effete liberal weaklings with hatred for racial 'others'-- welcome to Weimar.

Posted by: kaln0002 | February 21, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Obama is telling Americans to bend over and grab a chair...because the next lick will send them sprawling. The health care fiasco is the final blow. There will be no debate will be too late.

Posted by: easttxisfreaky | February 21, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

GoomyGommy --

You forgot two other things that the Teleprompter does in continuing his display of "Good enough for thee, but not for me" behavior. He keeps the thermostat at a very high setting, comparable to Hawaii. He also continues to pollute the air (and possibly the White House, in violation of federal law) by smoking. Meanwhile, during the campaign, he intoned that we Americans "cannot continue to eat as much as we want and keep our thermostats wherever we want them". Guess it's easy for him to maintain his withered look and meet Madam Obama's directive to all of us plebs to not become obese by his consumption of cigarettes.

He is a hypocrite of the highest order. I despise this man and what he is doing to this country like none other. When I watch the Olympics, I find myself saddened, because I know that behind the great athletes who represent us with their fearlessness and ambition is a so-called "leader" who can't kow-tow and apologize enough for us...who eagerly anticipates our being humbled.

Is it 2012 yet?

Posted by: RedderThanEver | February 22, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Corporate America has convinced us that we need to consume more to be happier. It serves their interests and bottom lines...consuming doesn't make us happier. Mature individuals figure this out.

We can't keep consuming as we have for the last 50 years. This type of consumption isn't sustainable.

Posted by: chatham1 | February 22, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

It's very unfortunate to see politics win over the truth. People do need to save money to go to college then just blowing it, and if anyone disagrees with that then they're just idiots. It's sad to see our country more focused on money than education. As far as energy is concerned, Obama is right there too. As Americans we use 1/4th the Worlds consuption of potroleum, but only have 1.8% within our boundries. We need to use less and come up with different source of energy along with producing more and exporting more like Obama said.

Posted by: josephmbennett | February 22, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Message to Neocons and all those who advocated the war with Iraq: time to pay up.

Posted by: dontblamemeivoted4gore | February 22, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

"Consume less and produce more" means get less by paying more.

There's nothing obviously worthwhile or admirable in that proposal at all. It's a regressive economic policy.

It's a great strategy for Democrats, though. If they can convince Americans that foregoing economic growth and maximizing social welfare is a desirable end in itself, then Democrats could easily pass all of the growth-crippling measures they covet (cap-and-trade, EFCA, centralized regulation of health care, various efficiency- and productivity-crippling tax hikes).

Regardless of any dubious extrinsic policy objectives Democrats might push, their proposals would be justified on their face: Americans will get less by paying more.

Posted by: TheThinkingMansMan | February 22, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

This smacks of Jimmy Carter's malaise. We would all consume less if there were less gas coming out of the White House.

Posted by: Rotbart | February 22, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

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