The White House plan:
- $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years,
- more spending right now: $50 billion in immediate stimulus spending, CORRECTION: $200 billion in stimulus
- home mortgage refinancing and
- a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.
In exchange for locking in the $1.6 trillion in added revenues, President Obama embraced the goal of finding $400 billion in savings from Medicare and other social programs to be worked out next year, with no guarantees.
The decision to present this absurdly one-sided proposal comes straight from the Obama playbook. Recall that the president has presented budgets so ridiculous that they could not garner even one Democratic vote in Congress. Republicans then presented detailed budgets that, unlike the president’s, actually address the debt crisis. Obama responding by demagoguing the Republican cuts.
Republicans shouldn’t play this game again. They should tell the White House to eliminate the stimulus spending and the proposal to end Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits, and to propose detailed and significant spending cuts. If the White House declines to do so, Republicans should walk away.
Making the Senate present a budget for the first time in 3 years would be a good start, too.
Ezra Klein thinks the Republicans should now propose their own. Ezra, where’s the Dems’ budget?
Don’t forget: The man now engaged with Congress to work out a grand deal is the same one who could not pull over to his side a single Republican vote for his stimulus legislation, who had to ram through ObamaCare with procedural tricks, and whose inept handling of last year’s debt-ceiling talks ultimately led his fellow Democrat, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to isolate him from the final negotiations. This is not a history to inspire confidence.
Mr. Obama’s tendency to campaign rather than lead, to speechify rather than negotiate, has already defined this lame-duck session. The president has wasted weeks during which a framework for a deal has been in place.
Within two days of the election, Mr. Boehner had offered an enormous compromise, committing the GOP to provide new tax revenue, through limits on deductions for the wealthy. Mr. Obama campaigned on making “the rich” pay more—and that is exactly what Mr. Boehner agreed to give him.
All that was left for the president to do was accept this peace offering, pair it with necessary spending cuts, and take credit for averting a crisis. Mr. Obama has instead spent the past weeks campaigning for tax-rate hikes. He wants the revenue, but collected only the way he chooses. And on the basis of that ideological insistence alone, the nation is much closer to a crisis.
Then again, the most frightening aspect of the White House proposal is that it wasn’t an error. Perhaps the proposal was thoroughly calculated. This suggests a president who doesn’t care about the outcome of the cliff negotiations—who thinks that he wins politically no matter what. He’s betting that either the GOP will be far more responsible than he is and do anything to avert a crisis, or that the cliff gives him the tax hikes his partisans are demanding. Win-win, save for the enormous pain to average families across the country.
Not that Obama gives a rat’s behind. He’s going on vacation. Besides, the Democrats are completely convinced that if no deal is reached, the Bush tax cuts expire, and sequestration takes effect, Republicans will get most of the blame.