President Obama outlined what he called a framework for deficit reduction Wednesday. It was a tacit admission that his 2012 budget submission did not go far enough. That shows Republicans succeeded in seizing the initiative with their own comprehensive, pro-growth proposal to restore America’s solvency. Mr. Obama’s flimsy “me, too” smacks of desperation.
The White House describes its latest plan as “comprehensive” and “pro-growth” but that’s deceptive. The GOP used the phrases to describe House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s package of discretionary spending cuts, entitlement reforms and tax relief. Mr. Obama hijacked the words to describe a combination of illusory spending cuts and very real tax hikes. Worse, Mr. Obama’s so-called deficit-reduction plan includes a laundry list of spending increases needed to “win the future.” The priorities in the president’s WTF strategy are windmills and solar panels, “high-speed” Amtrak and trolleys, federalized education and Pell Grants.
Mr. Obama’s speech blasted Republicans for daring to question the relevance of these sacred initiatives, saying any reductions would lead to a “fundamentally different America than the one we’ve known throughout most of our history.” Of course, when he speaks of history, he’s not referring to the Founding Fathers, none of whom were known for backing windmill-farm subsidies. For the left, all history begins with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, both of whom believed government, not private industry, to be the source of economic growth. We’re now drowning in the red ink they spilled by this philosophy.
Mr. Obama, of course, refuses to touch Social Security, the New Deal’s crown jewel. He disingenuously claims the program is solvent and there’s no need to cut down on the goodies it dispenses. Instead, his idea of “shared sacrifice” involves “tax reform,” which consists of “spending reductions in the tax code.” That’s a manipulative way of avoiding a clear statement that he will raise taxes by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. He also would impose a crushing new burden on homeowners by taking away the mortgage-interest deduction.
It’s hard to compare this White House scheme, which consists of 13 pages of talking points and rhetoric, with Mr. Ryan’s 73 pages of charts, graphs and numbers giving precise details on funding levels. The Congressional Budget Office already has produced a preliminary score for how much the Republican plan would save in entitlement spending, explaining that “less private saving would be absorbed by federal borrowing - which would also tend to boost future output and income.” The plan would produce a real $89 billion cut in 2012 spending compared to 2011.
Mr. Obama’s plan, on the other hand, involves more of the same empty promises of “cuts” decades into the future to pay for today’s spending. Mr. Ryan’s plan and the thriftier alternatives proposed by the Republican Study Committee and Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, represent the only honest attempts to put the country back on the right path.