Obama budget: Seriously, how about some more tax increases
I see the New York Times and Washington Post are back to rewriting White House press releases and passing them off as news. Opening paragraphs of New York Times story about President Obama’s upcoming budget proposal, which will be delivered months after the President was legally required to submit it:
President Obama next week will take the political risk of formally proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his annual budget in an effort to demonstrate his willingness to compromise with Republicans and revive prospects for a long-term deficit-reduction deal, administration officials say.
In a significant shift in fiscal strategy, Mr. Obama on Wednesday will send a budget plan to Capitol Hill that departs from the usual presidential wish list that Republicans typically declare dead on arrival. Instead it will embody the final compromise offer that he made to Speaker John A. Boehner late last year, before Mr. Boehner abandoned negotiations in opposition to the president’s demand for higher taxes from wealthy individuals and some corporations.
Opening paragraphs of the Washington Post story:
President Obama will release a budget next week that proposes significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security and fewer tax hikes than in the past, a conciliatory approach that he hopes will convince Republicans to sign onto a grand bargain that would curb government borrowing and replace deep spending cuts that took effect March 1.
When he unveils the budget on Wednesday, Obama will break with the tradition of providing a sweeping vision of his ideal spending priorities, untethered from political realities. Instead, the document will incorporate the compromise offer Obama made to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last December in the discussions over the so-called “fiscal cliff” – which included $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction through spending cuts and tax increases.
Seriously, guys, we all know the White House drives your coverage, and you faithfully pump out whatever talking points they hand you, but you need to vary the structure of the articles more, to make it a bit less obvious. And it would be nice if your zeal to serve as extensions of the White House press office didn’t drive you to treat your readers like idiots. “A grand bargain that would curb government borrowing and replace deep spending cuts,” Washington Post? There have been no spending cuts. None. Not “deep” or otherwise. Sequestration represents a $43 billion reduction from the $68 billion in additional spending that was planned for next year.
I’ll give the Post a little credit for the creative way they pretend Obama’s utter irresponsibility in budgeting is some kind of hallowed “tradtiion” of “sweeping visions” he’s about to break from. His predecessors held no such “tradition.” And it’s so cute that the New York Times claims Republicans declared Obama’s ridiculous “wish lists” dead on arrival, without mentioning that they couldn’t win a single Democrat vote either.
There are many reforms the American people should be demanding in our embarrassing “budget” process – such as making Democrats obey the federal laws that require budgets, and disposing of the ludicrous “baseline budgeting” concept that allows liberal propagandists to pretend modest reductions in spending growth are “deep cuts.” The reform that will be hardest to impose, but perhaps most vital, will be forcing everyone involved in the budget process to submit actual budgets, not wish lists that pretend the government has a trillion dollars more to spend than it really does. One of the reasons we’re in such a fiscal and social mess is that statists are able to demand the sun, moon, and stars in their opening bids, then pronounce themselves reasonable because they’re willing to settle for just the sun and the moon. The result is a sea of unsustainable programs that dependent citizens are planning their lives around.
At any rate, we’re back to Obama’s vision of coin-operated government, in which he must be paid off with more tax money before he’ll consider doing his duty, or making even the most tentative gesture toward fiscal sanity. The Sequestration Terror blew up in his face, so now he’ll try coupling his endless demand for tax increases with an offer to do something about entitlements. But as the Administration’s faithful stenographers at both the Times and Post note, he’s not doing anything more than re-hash an offer he made to Republican House Speaker John Boehner during the “fiscal cliff” drama. In other words, this is nothing new; it’s just Obama repeating his old demands for tax increases, now that his sequestration strategy has backfired. It’s the first week in January all over again. Wasn’t Obama’s campaign slogan “Forward?” Why is he going backwards?
As for those entitlement reforms he’s proposing, we’ve got “chained C.P.I.” for Social Security, which recalculates inflation in a way that will reduce cost-of-living increases for recipients, although the Times adds that there will be “financial protections for low-income and very old beneficiaries.” The merits of this idea are debatable – it’s generally favored by Republicans and opposed by Democrats – but it’s not going to “save” Social Security all by itself.
And in Obama’s Medicare reforms, “the savings would mostly come from payments to health care providers, including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, but Mr. Obama also proposes that higher-income beneficiaries pay more for coverage.” Great, so we’ll shortchange the medical industry and give doctors even more reasons to avoid Medicare, while screwing people who have paid into the system for their entire lives by reducing the value of their benefits. It’s nice to see liberals finally admitting that Medicare can’t keep its promises, just like all their other underfunded statist disasters, but we’re going to pay a terrible cost for believing them all these years.
The highest White House priority is to get Republicans to sign onto more tax increases. They did a good job of conveying this priority to their loyal friends at the New York Times, because the Times article mentions the importance of Republican capitulation to tax increases no less than eight times. Much of the new revenue would come from closing loopholes – an idea the White House dismissed as “pixie dust” back when it was demanding higher tax rates.
The Post takes care to remind readers what a super-nice guy Obama has been lately, what with his “charm offensive” and all. Just forget about all those crazy lies he was spewing about the horrors of sequestration, in an unsuccessful bid to scare up popular support for more tax increases. He’s going to take Senate Republicans to dinner again! How much more jovial and accommodating could he be?
Overall, the budget request reflects Obama’sstark shift in strategy over the last month, as he has adopted a far more congenial posture toward the opposition. He hasbegun a charm offensive reaching out to rank-and-file House and Senate Republicans, dining and speaking privately with them in hopes they will take seriously his offer to overhaul entitlement programs in exchange for increasing tax revenues. Obama is set to have dinner with a group of Republicans on Wednesday night, just hours after his budget is released.
Obama’s aides have not been overly optimistic about the prospects for a deal. But they now argue that a strategy of private outreach, coupled with public events, offers the best path forward for progress not only on the deficit but also on other issues, including immigration and gun control.
Translation: even as he’s “charming” Republicans at dinner, he’ll be blowing huge piles of taxpayer money on a permanent campaign to crank his poll numbers back up, and convince the public that fiscal disaster can be avoided with a few more tax increases on people who don’t really need the money anyway. Oh, and if those Republicans the President is trying to “charm” get in the way of his amnesty or gun control agenda, they’ll be vilified as xenophobes who don’t mind watching children die, as long as it makes the NRA happy.
According to these leaks, Obama’s new “budget” never comes anywhere near balancing, let alone reducing the towering debt he’s already piled up. It’s better than the eye-rolling madness of previous Obama “budgets” that projected trillion-dollar deficits out to infinity. Instead, we’ll have half-trillion dollar deficits out to infinity. Could we set aside all the theatrics, pull the taxpayer-financed gas pump out of Air Force One, park Obama and his gigantic staff in the White House for a while, and get a real “budget” proposal that has the federal government spending only the $2.6 trillion it already collects in tax revenue? Better yet, how about a tax cut to jump-start the moribund economy that just produced another horrifying workforce collapse? How much longer does Obamanomics have to fail before we finally start moving “forward?”