Finally, the truth emerges. After months of the media telling us that Obama, not Republicans, is the realist and pragmatist, yesterday we saw in the full light of day what Obama is: a political hack and idealogue.
Mr. Obama, through his Press Secretary Jay Carney, yesterday clearly stated that the President would veto the “Cut, Cap, and Balance’ bill that Republicans in the House will pass this week. The bill, which proposes $2.7 Trillion in cuts over the next decade with no revenue increases, has only one item missing for Mr. Obama to veto it. Simply put, for Obama it is a motto of “Taxes or Bust”.
If we use the media’s own spin over the past few months, that should get Mr. Obama criticized for being an ideologue, or as some liberals have put it, an economic hostage taker or terrorist. That is what they called Republicans as they pushed their ideas on the country. The double standard, although expected, is mind blowing. We should never expect fair treatment in the media, and this is just one more example.
As the debt ceiling debate rolls on, to whatever fruitless end Mr. Obama and the Republican establishment are set upon taking us, I have to wonder…what is our goal here?
Conservatives, it is time to call Obama’s bluff. Boehner has been ill-suited to make the grand bargain, largely because he has no room to maneuver. However, Eric Cantor and others could convince the base that a deal is worth making. What kind of deal am I talking about?
Well, I am talking about a huge deal. Give the Democrats some tax increases. Hell, give them the Bush tax cuts if they want. I simply don’t believe that even that would sell the plan to them.
Well, now we shall see. There appears to be an outline of this plan forming, in all places, in the Senate’s Gang of Six minus one. The plan would cut $3.7 Trillion from the debt over 10 years. Tom Coburn, who is the member of the Gang who jumped ship, appears to like the concept:
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who had pulled out of the Gang of Six in May, also rejoined the group and praised the plan as something that could win the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate.
“The plan has moved significantly, and it’s where we need to be — and it’s a start,” Coburn said. “This doesn’t solve our problems, but it creates the way forward where we can solve our problems.”
Coburn said the plan would reduce the deficit by $3.7 trillion over the next 10 years and increase tax revenues by $1 trillion by closing a variety of special tax breaks and havens.
He also noted, however, that the Congressional Budget Office would score the plan as a $1.5 trillion tax cut because it would eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax. It would generate a significant amount of revenue out of tax reform and reduction of tax rates, which authors believe would spur economic growth.
Coburn said he expected a “significant portion of the Senate” to support the plan — “maybe 60 members.”
Now, call me skeptical. A $1 trillion increase in taxes…that is going to be scored as a tax cut? The elimination of the AMT, an albatross on the necks of tens of millions of middle class Americans, would be an excellent device to get some tax relief, and I am fully in support of eliminating it. However, we have heard this before; remember the budget deal earlier this year? I want to see major details before I jump on board. Coburn’s voice is a positive note however.
If this is real, and Coburn is accurately describing the plan, it would shift the debate. Ever since Obama theoretically accepted the concept of a ‘grand bargain’, Republicans have been playing on the defensive. Mitch McConnell’s plan was nothing more than a plan to save face, with some political games included.
But something on the lines of the above plan would force Mr. Obama to put his cards on the table. Like in past debates, Obama doesn’t really want to take a stand on anything. He talks about reforms in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, but demands tax cuts in return. Fine. Let us theoretically give him the tax cuts, but only for what we want in return.
On entitlements, the plan would fully pay for the Medicare “doc fix” over 10 years, allowing doctors to avoid a drastic cut in Medicare payments under the law, which is regularly avoided but never paid for. The plan also contains strong enforcement procedures. One of these would require a 67-vote supermajority in the Senate to circumvent spending caps.
Supposedly, Social Security reform is also on the table, but any savings from the program would not be used for deficit reduction.
Now, Mr. Obama, where are your cuts? Where is your plan? If this deal is true to its word, $2.7 Trillion in cuts need to be on the table. We shall see if this President is ready to make true changes to entitlements. He will have to support some real reforms and real cuts to programs that, so far, he has refused to touch other than with rhetoric alone.
If not, I dare him to veto whatever the Congress sends up to him. Don’t call our bluff, Barack.