President Barack Obama has a fetish for “splitting the difference” that defies both logic and common sense. It is like he is incapable of deciding what is the correct path, and feels some overwhelming desire to just take the halfway point between any two positions. Look at this passage in his health care proposal to see the absurd extreme that he has taken this split-the-difference thinking to:
Invest in Community Health Centers. Community health centers play a critical role in providing quality care in underserved areas. About 1,250 centers provide care to 20 million people, with an emphasis on preventive and primary care. The Senate bill increases funding to these centers for services by $7 billion and for construction by $1.5 billion over 5 years. The House bill provides $12 billion over the same 5 years. Bridging the difference, the President’s Proposal invests $11 billion in these centers.
This is just crazy. I doubt Obama actually thought $11 billion was, policy-wise, the right amount to spend on Community Health Centers. The idea enjoys broad popular support with the public, both parties, and policy experts. I doubt there is any political reason for splitting the difference. Either you think it is a good idea, or you do not. I don’t believe Obama studied the data and concluded $12 billion was just $1 billion too much, and that, by coincidence, that number is exactly half of the difference between the House and Senate bills. One billion dollars is a rounding error in this bill, and I doubt Obama would even risk getting into a fight over the change. Why even put the minor change in the 11-page proposal? Why not let the House have one single win?
I can just picture Obama sitting with his policy people and them all leaping for joy that they found a provision in both bills that was almost identical except for the funding level. They quickly moved to “split the difference” to show the media how compromisy they can be. They probably put no more thought into the move than thanking their lucky stars that the funding was two round numbers they could split right down the middle to show how they try to split anything right down the middle.
My advice to all Washington politicians moving forward: Always ask Obama for twice as much as you want because his overwhelmingly desire is to just split the number in half. Think of him like King Solomon, but the difference is his goal would be to really give both women one half of a baby.
Thanks to comment from puppethead