I tend to agree with Charles Krauthammer’s immediate reaction after Obama’s speech last night:
Krauthammer astutely picked up on Obama’s use of the poll tested word “balanced” and it’s appeal to the middle. Unless you haven’t been following these negotiations at all, it might have had some effect. But his explanation or how he defined “balanced” is pretty political. First his claim is you can only define balanced one way – his way. Secondly, you can only achieve balance one way – again, his way. Of course neither is true. However, assuming you buy into his “my way or the highway” definition, he then tells you why the Republicans – the only group who have actually offered and voted on a plan ironically called “cut, cap and balance” – are working for the corporate jet owners (anyone tired of that line yet?).
Obama specifically calls for “compromise” yet then tells us he won’t accept a short term increase in the debt ceiling. He calls it “kicking the can down the road”. What it would actually mean is kicking this can into next year – an election year. So he obviously doesn’t feel inclined to “compromise” on what would obviously hurt him politically.
What I’d have also like to have heard is why Obama voted against a debt ceiling increase when he had a chance and now that Republicans are against it it’s the wrong thing to do. Some have said that he ought to have admitted he was wrong and the GOP is wrong now. I’m sorry, but I don’t think he was wrong then and I do think he’s wrong now.
Moving on, here’s a bit of misdirection in the Obama speech:
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.
But? But that’s not what we’re talking about is it? This is the usual political spin – talk about what the public will lose that the politician is sure the public finds valuable – at a local level it is usually firefighters, police and teachers. Never talk about reducing bureaucracy, or the costly and wasteful redundancy, inefficiency or pure bloat found in government. Nope, pretend it takes government of this size to inspect food. And pretend only government has any hand in “medical research” and without that we’re all going to be left to die from preventable conditions.
And of course, the “compromise” being sought, the “balance” desired is really aimed at the ideological agenda item Democrats have been attempting for years – tax the rich:
And keep in mind that under a balanced approach, the 98 percent of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all. None. In fact, I want to extend the payroll tax cut for working families. What we’re talking about under a balanced approach is asking Americans whose incomes have gone up the most over the last decade – millionaires and billionaires – to share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make.
I won’t bore you again with the percentage the “rich” contribute now as their ‘share’ contributes to the profligacy that Obama would like to extend. But they already carry the lion’s share of the income tax burden. Obama want’s more because he claims they can afford it. Here’s a newsflash for the politicians – you don’t get to decide who can afford what, instead you need to find a way to live within the means provided by the present revenue stream, not claim you should have more. Obviously giving politicians “more” always ends up in the same place – “more” debt.
“Balance” has nothing to do with the approach, it has to do with the result. And that should include massive spending cuts. If any “sacrifice” is to be made, it should be made by government, not the people. Even Obama admits that there is only one class of citizen responsible for this mess:
Because neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it.
That’s right. The only totally true statement in the entire speech. Note it wasn’t the “corporate jet owners” who got us in this condition, it was the politicians. So the only "sacrifice” I see necessary is politicians sacrificing their spending, not the public. It’s time both parties realize the spending spree is over. At least one of them seems to have gotten that message. They’re actually offering solutions that concentrate in the necessary area – spending cuts.
This is a problem of and by politicians. It’s fairly simple to understand – they’ve used their powers to ignore spending limits and now they’ve found themselves in deep, deep trouble. One side’s solution is to cut back on the spending and balance future spending to revenue and paying down the horrendous debt they’ve piled up. The other’s solution is to continue to try to put a claim on the earnings of others so they don’t have to cut as much and, frankly, can continue to spend on programs we can’t afford. Obama has been very clear on this saying on at least two occasions that savings in defense spending could be spent on other programs – such as food stamps.
Compromise? The reason we’re in this position now is we’ve compromised for decades and run up a debt that is now threatening our very well-being. This hasn’t been done by the “rich”. It hasn’t been done by the “corporate jet owners”. It hasn’t been done by anyone but compromising politicians eager to use their power to spend to buy votes.
While we may survive this particular crisis, the problem remains systemic and only promises repeats unless someone or some party actually takes a stand, says “enough” and actually enacts enforceable laws which won’t allow this to happen again.
“Balance” and “compromise” are two poll tested words that Obama is sure will appeal to the big middle and, he hopes, will sway them to his class warfare agenda and tax increases which will enable Obama to push this past his re-election attempt in 2012. He is the consummate can kicker – he just wants to kick the can further down the road than does the GOP (who also has political motives behind their “short term debt limit increase” plan).
Bottom line – stipulated there are all sorts of politics being played here, but … the GOP needs to stand firm on its principle that this crisis isn’t a problem created by too little revenue, but instead one created by profligate spending, none more profligate than that in which this particular administration has engaged. Therefore, the solution – the balanced solution – is to reduce spending (and that includes debt service) to revenue levels, not the other way around.
That’s the only “compromise” I’m interested in seeing.