Today John Boehner presented the Tea Party’s deficit reduction plan that – in spite of President Obama’s passionate call last Friday for a bill that asks for shared sacrifice from the poor, the middle class, and the rich – still consists only of cuts in government expenditures that will hurt only the middle and lower classes.
Obama took the stage during prime time tonight to summarize the plans offered from both sides of the aisle, and again the president said all the right things. Here he describes his balanced approach:
The first approach says, let’s live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending. Let’s cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President. Let’s cut defense spending at the Pentagon by hundreds of billions of dollars. Let’s cut out waste and fraud in health care programs like Medicare — and at the same time, let’s make modest adjustments so that Medicare is still there for future generations. Finally, let’s ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their breaks in the tax code and special deductions.
And then he places blame for this reasonable plan not gaining traction in congress squarely on the Tea Party caucus:
The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a different approach — a cuts-only approach -– an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all.
…Most Americans, regardless of political party, don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask a corporate jet owner or the oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get. How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries? How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?
That’s not right. It’s not fair. We all want a government that lives within its means, but there are still things we need to pay for as a country -– things like new roads and bridges; weather satellites and food inspection; services to veterans and medical research.
Bravo Obama! Now how are you going to get your balanced approach to prevail? Will the Democratically controlled Senate fight for you? Tonight you said:
…The Senate has introduced a plan to avoid default, which makes a down payment on deficit reduction and ensures that we don’t have to go through this again in six months.
I think that’s a much better approach, although serious deficit reduction would still require us to tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform.
Uh… that’s nice, but if you were waiting to hear the part about how the Senate was holding fast to its demand for increased revenue from profitable corporations and billionaires in exchange for painful cuts to the federal budget, you’ll have to keep waiting.
Joshua Green described Harry Reid’s latest sorry senate plan this way:
From the outset of the debt-ceiling fight, House Republicans have made two clear demands: any agreement to raise the debt limit must include offsetting cuts of at least $2.4 trillion and could not include any revenue increases. For a time, it appeared that some grand bargain to reform the tax code and entitlement programs might obviate these demands. But those talks fell apart. Democrats first pushed for a deal that would include roughly 3 to 1 spending cuts to revenue increases. Then 4 to 1. And then, last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid threw in the towel and announced he’ll introduce a bill with at least $2.7 trillion in cuts and no revenue increases at all. That’s a clear win for Republicans, although they’re certain to ask for more.
Yes, once again the Democrats have started by meeting Republicans midfield and then – instead of using favorable public opinion, an ethical game plan, a majority in one camp, and a skilled orator leading the team down the field to score some points for the average American – they give ground, and give some more ground, and ultimately end up giving their greedy, government hating opponents more than they asked for in the first place.
Krugman nailed it with this early morning blog post:
The thing that strikes me is that this administration just keeps on making the same mistake. Again and again, policy is predicated on the notion that Republicans will act reasonably; again and again, they don’t. And yet Obama and company never seem to learn.
Is it too early to start drinking?
No, in these times it’s never too early to start drinking. Drink away Paul, I am right there with you.