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LAMBRO: Leveraging taxes with sequestration

Doomsday scenarios attempt to put the squeeze on taxpayers

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President Obama was back on the campaign trail Tuesday, preaching doom and gloom over the approaching budget cuts that will likely take place in March.

If you tuned in late to this daily soap opera, the federal government will begin cutting $85 billion in across-the-board spending reductions on Friday. That's $85 billion out of a monster budget that is fast approaching $4 trillion a year.

Certainly, $85 billion is still a lot of money, but one does not have to have a degree in advanced math to understand that it's a relatively tiny share of the total budget. It isn't at all hard to find $85 billion in savings in a government the size of ours. We waste much more than that each year through inefficiency, duplication, fraud, theft and mismanagement.

Let's start with $150,000 for Oklahoma's Lake Murray State Park Airport, which may have one landing and takeoff a week and often none at all.

Congress could put together a budget, using just the budget savings identified by its auditing arm -- the Government Accountability Office -- that far exceeds $85 billion.

The president could have called in the leaders of Congress the day after his second inauguration and given them a list of programs that cry out for cuts and ask that they put together their own bill totaling $85 billion in real spending reductions. That's what Congress has done for more than two-and-a-quarter centuries -- enacting budgets that for most of our history presidents have signed into law.

This president isn't interested in finding solutions. He is interested in playing the politics of blame and exploiting issues to his own and, ultimately, his party's, benefit.

There was Mr. Obama on Tuesday, jetting off on another costly campaign road show, pounding the Republicans for being the kind of cold, cruel and heartless people who will slash programs needed to defend our country and care for the old, the sick and the poor.

Lifting the art of fear-mongering to a whole new level in presidential demagoguery, he raises the specter of laid-off meat inspectors, fewer police officers, untended airport security and delayed cancer research to scare us into submission.

Political combat and playing to our fears instead of our hopes is what Mr. Mr. Obama does. That's all he knows and that's what he seems to enjoy doing. In his brief residency in the Senate, he wasn't known for reaching across the aisle to get anything done. Quite the contrary, he was out on the political hustings, attacking Republicans with relish.

Yet his trip to Newport News, Va., to highlight the impact sequestration will have on its shipbuilding economy, will not alleviate our fiscal troubles one iota. It won't create a single job or cut one dollar from a swollen, out-of-control, unsustainable budget.

"This is no time for a road show president," House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy lectured Mr. Obama at a news conference Monday with other Republican leaders. "This is a time to look for someone who will lead and work with us, because we're willing to work with them to solve America's problems."

The president could have just as easily climbed into his limo for a short drive up to Capitol Hill to suggest that in a government this size, that spends this much money, surely we can easily identify a piddling $85 billion in real budget cuts. I mean, this isn't brain surgery.

Mr. Obama maintains the Republicans in the House are the obstacle to any solution to the present impasse. In fact, it is Mr. Obama's unreasonable and stubborn insistence that any budget deal must come with tax increases.

He, his party and their pals in the news media say the Republicans in Congress are the ones holding up any attempt to avert the budget cuts in order to prevent further tax increases on the rich.

The GOP's opposition to higher taxes is not about protecting the wealthy -- it's about strengthening the U.S. economy, which is overtaxed, overregulated and undercapitalized.

The president doesn't talk much about our persistently weak, jobless economy, and with good reason. Nearing the end of his first four years in office, the Department of Commerce reported that the economy stopped growing in the last three months of 2012. In fact, the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) actually shrank.

Unemployment is nearly 8 percent and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported just this month that economic growth will remain weak and the jobless rate will hover about where it is now for the rest of the year.

Mr. Obama and his economic advisers live in a hermetically sealed world of their own making where raising taxes on income and investments is irrelevant to the economy's ill health.

Since the Great Depression, the average length of any recession has been about two years. Mr. Obama's weak, subpar, chronically sluggish economy is entering its fifth year of misery. It should be abundantly clear by now that his big-spending, tax hike policies (both real and threatened) have not worked and aren't going to work.

With far fewer Americans finding full-time jobs and thus paying no income taxes, budget deficits have skyrocketed under his presidency. This will be the fifth year when the Obama deficit will still be within the $1 trillion range.

He seems impervious to the ugly reality that taxing evermore capital out of the economy will only weaken it further, worsen the job market and turn the American dream into an unreachable goal for millions of our fellow citizens.

"Instead, he campaigns across the country, painting the dire consequences sequestration will impose if new [tax] revenues are not raised, as he proposes, by limiting tax deductions benefiting the wealthy," writes University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici.

Republicans have wrongly given him $600 billion in new taxes in the hope that would satisfy him, but now he wants even higher tax rates as the price of signing a new budget deal.

House Republicans have proposed giving the Obama administration more flexibility in implementing the budget cuts and where they will fall, but he isn't buying into that.

He prefers playing the hand he has: blaming the GOP for whatever happens next, and remaining an impassive bystander who no longer takes responsibility for the office he holds.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is the chief political correspondent for The Washington Times, the author of five books and a nationally syndicated columnist. His twice-weekly United Feature Syndicate column appears in newspapers across the country, including The Washington Times. He received the Warren Brookes Award For Excellence In Journalism in 1995 and in that same year was the host and co-writer of ...

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