After months of promising a “balanced approach” to reducing the national deficit, President Barack Obama is backing off of his own compromise proposal, and he now refuses to cut one cent from the government’s bloated budget.
Mr. Obama and liberal Democrats in the Senate and House have coalesced to form a stubborn obstacle to even small reductions in spending on the nation’s many social welfare programs.
In fact what was once a concession by Democrats, that tax increases on the wealthy would have to be combined with spending, has now largely turned into a one sided “negotiation” with Democrats now saying that any spending curtailments must come after tax rates go up on Americans making more than $250,000 a year.
Democrats, emboldened by positive results in the presidential and congressional elections, have given up even the appearance of supporting efforts to cut spending.
The nation is in serious financial trouble. But instead of the sober debates in Congress that one would expect, we see nothing but dueling press conferences featuring Mr. Obama returning to the campaign trail to stoke class resentment and drum up support for higher taxes.
According to the GOP House Speaker John Boehner “no substantive progress has been made” in the meetings (taking place mostly in secret) regarding the looming fiscal cliff.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was reported to have laughed at a new Obama administration proposal, delivered by Secretary Treasurer Timothy Geithner, which included 50 billion dollars more spending for stimulus in an effort to “cut” the deficit. However, the idea of raising taxes has become more popular with some Republicans too.
In the wake of the GOP’s election loss, some Republicans believe that the national electorate will look at their party with scorn if it is seen as protecting the rich at the expense of the middle class. GOP Senator Tom Cole is typical of those members who think that, while conservatives may be philosophically correct in wanting to protect job creators, they are losing the PR war with Mr. Obama, and that the better of two bad options is to make a deal that allows for increased taxes.
While there is discontent and infighting among the GOP between moderates and those who are strict fiscal conservatives, the Democrats have solidified. Talks of increased revenue, and of the rich paying their “fair share” are abundant. Never mind that the wealthy already pay a greater share of their income than the poor or middle class. The top 20% earn 50.8% of the income but pay 67.9% of the taxes. Meanwhile, the bottom 40% of U.S. earners make 14.9% of the income but pay only 4.1% of the total income tax.
Most earners in the bottom 40% actually pay no income taxes at all, but instead get money back from the government in the form of refundable tax credits. How then do the Democrats keep a straight face when they claim that the rich aren’t paying their “fair share?”
And what about our out-of-control spending? The only discussion regarding the sacrosanct programs of Medicare and Social Security from Democrats is when Illinois Senator Richard Durbin opined, “The Social Security is a separate thing. It does not add a penny to the debt.”
The president and his Democratic colleagues in Congress have broken their promise of a “balanced approach” to solving the fiscal crisis. They are not interested in cutting our out of control spending in the least, despite a national debt that totals more than $16 trillion.
If the U.S. falls over the “fiscal cliff”—it will be because the president and his fellow Democrats have broken their promises to the American people.
Fix contributor Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase.