President Obama has brought demagoguery to the budget debate. His speech, without a plan included, attacks the only written vision as follows:
c “We won’t be able to afford good schools, new research, or repair roads and bridges.”
c “It ends Medicare as we know it.”
c “Spending a trillion dollars on new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”
c “Reforms we passed in health care law will reduce our deficit by $1 trillion.”
However, Mr. Obama has ample motivation for such capricious, threadbare assaults. The Republicans campaigned on promises to cut the budget by $100 billion immediately. Instead the Congressional Budget Office calculates last week’s deal reduces spending for fiscal 2011 by only $352 million. Mr. Obama and the Democrats face no adversaries when arguments could have included:
c Balanced scoring for the health care law shows more than a $1 trillion increase in the deficit.
c Money is not spent on tax cuts for the wealthy, but tax revenue collected increases, since rates are currently too high. Wealthy people receive greater incentive for productive economic activity and pay more taxes.
The new health care law ends Medicare as we know it. Any savings promised occur because the government refuses to pay the cost under newly adopted guidelines that care must be cost-effective. Princeton bioethics professor Peter Singer says in the New York Times, “Rationing health care means getting value for the billions spent by setting limits on which treatments should be paid from the public purse.” That suggests saving one teenager is equivalent to saving a bunch of 85-year-olds.