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WSJ: The Note Card the President Needs Taxpayers brace for another budget negotiation

  |   By Polling+ Staff

(Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

The Note Card the President Needs

Taxpayers brace for another budget negotiation.

Joe Biden, his notecards and the budget. WSJ columnist James Freeman writes:

“There’s a modern Beltway tradition of budget negotiation in which elected officials debate the manner in which they will lift federal outlays to previously unimaginable new heights. Sadly for taxpayers, President Joe Biden once again seems eager to honor this contemporary custom.

Today Mr. Biden hosted congressional leaders and Vice President Kamala Harris in the Oval Office to discuss ways to avoid a partial government shutdown on Saturday, when some agencies are scheduled to run out of funding. Before the closed-door discussion among the policy makers, reporters were brought in to witness brief Biden remarks. With the help of two note cards, the president spoke for 95 seconds about the need to fund the government but said nothing at all about the need to find savings. Clearly he could have used at least one more note card.

Don’t underestimate the importance of this particular presidential tool. Last week Hans Nichols of Axios reported:

‘President Biden has been using notecards in closed-door fundraisers, calling on prescreened donors and then consulting his notes to provide detailed answers, according to people familiar with the routine…

Biden’s reliance on notecards to help explain his own policy positions — on questions he knows are coming — is raising concerns among some donors about Biden’s age…

Biden advisers say the president is given notecards only for very detailed and technical questions, and say he frequently does spontaneous Q&As.’

Only the donors who witness such events can say for sure, but when it comes to public events Mr. Biden’s note cards have not been limited to detailed and technical issues. Last April Katherine Fung reported for Newsweek:

‘On Wednesday, photographers at the White House captured photos that showed Biden holding a small paper that suggested the president is given notice of the questions that members of the press will ask him during his media engagements.

The pocket card showed a photo of a journalist with the Los Angeles Times… along with the pronunciation of her last name under “Question #1.” The question Biden held read, “How are YOU squaring YOUR domestic priorities—like reshoring semiconductors manufacturing—with alliance-based foreign policy?”

The reporter, who was called first during the question period after Biden’s press conference with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, asked: ‘Your top economic priority has been to build up U.S. domestic manufacturing in competition with China, but your rules against expanding chip manufacturing in China is hurting South Korean companies that rely heavily on Beijing. Are you damaging a key ally in the competition with China to help your domestic politics ahead of the election?’

Last July Carol Lee, Peter Nicholas and Monica Alba noted for NBC News that the use of note cards appears to be part of a larger strategy:

‘Joe Biden’s aides realized they had a problem last month when the president tripped over a sandbag — hard — at the Air Force Academy’s graduation ceremony…

In a preview of what voters will see more of if Biden wins re-election and serves into his mid-80s, the White House seems to be making concessions to his age. An iconic image of the modern presidency is the chief executive walking up the stairs to a majestic Air Force One, then turning at the doorway and waving. More and more, Biden is forgoing the long staircase for the shorter stairway that takes him up through the plane’s belly…

Biden’s use of the shorter staircase, which, of course, reduces the risk of a televised fall that goes viral, has more than doubled since Biden’s tumble at the commencement ceremony, according to an analysis by NBC News…

Other age-compensating measures are logistical, and probably familiar to many who’ve reached a certain stage in life: extra-large font on his teleprompter and note cards to remind him of the points he wants to make in meetings.’

This brings us to the latest round of budget negotiations, and the most relevant information to help him do his job. This month the Congressional Budget Office reported:

The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2024 to 2034

Projections at a Glance The Federal Budget The deficit totals $1.6 trillion in fiscal year 2024, grows to $1.8 t…

‘Net outlays for interest have risen by more than 35 percent in each of the past two years and are projected to increase by 32 percent this year. In CBO’s projections, those outlays rise from $659 billion in 2023 to $870 billion in 2024, surpassing discretionary outlays for defense this year.’

People have been warning for years that someday, absent reform, the United States would be forced to spend more to service our debt than to defend ourselves. Someday is today, and there is a desperate taxpayer need for a new note card, and it doesn’t need to be detailed and technical. It might simply say:

Interest bigger than Pentagon.

Federal debt larger than economy.

Spend less.

The problem? Spending less is a bipartisan problem.