No side is covering themselves with glory in the current fiscal cliff negotiations, but Republicans are far more honest with their proposal than President Obama is with his. The president is really stinking up negotiations with budget-battle manure.
Obama’s plan, which promises $4 trillion in deficit reduction, has two particularly shameful faux promises. It calls for $1 trillion in already scheduled budget cuts and $800 billion in war on terror spending that has not been allocated. What the president is really calling for is about $400 billion in spending cuts over 10 years and what the administrstion projects will be $1.6 trillion in tax increases. Also, the administration wants scores of billions of dollars for new stimulus programs and the continuation of what are supposed to be temporary payroll tax cuts.
Obama’s fiscal cliff budget deal is more or less a replay of his budget proposal of last year, which received no support in Congress.
The Republican proposal is not perfect — it should include a specific income tax hike on the rich. But its claim 0f $4.6 trillion in deficit reduction has a stronger basis in reality than Obama’s $4 trillion. Also, the Republican proposal, despite howling from some on the right, calls for $800 billion in tax increases, garnered through new limits in deductions and overall tax reform. It’s very similar to the deal that almost was passed in 2011, prior to the fiscal cliff deal. Yet, now Obama and the Democrats scoff at it. They had the political gall to actually demand that Congress no longer have any power over the lifting of debt limits in the future, a violation of precedent and perhaps the Constitution.
Americans have proven distressingly susceptible to class warfare rhetoric, but I hope they notice that Speaker of the House John Boehner is angering his base by calling for tax-related revenue increases, while the president is placating his base by refusing to enact serious cuts and refusing to seriously engage with the Republicans on tax increases.
We just finished a long campaign where the fiscal cliff and our budget woes were not mentioned nearly enough. Instead, Democrats accused Republicans of waging war on just about any interest group other than old, puffy white males. But the fiscal cliff is a serious issue, and hopefully both sides will reach an agreement. The major burden toward compromise, however, is on President Obama.