- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama took to the airwaves yesterday to defend his 2012 budget plan. Assuming a solemn tone of fiscal responsibility, he explained to the gathered White House press corps, “We’re not going to be running up the credit card anymore.” Mr. Obama even gave a shout-out to Ronald Reagan, noting his predecessor’s skill at working out disagreements with Democrats.

The approach of America’s 40th and 44th presidents couldn’t be more distinct, despite recent attempts to pretend otherwise. Take Mr. Obama’s comment that his departing press secretary was “willing to take one for the Gipper.” This is more than just a misquote from Reagan’s 1940 film “Knute Rockne: All American.” It’s consistent with a proposal that has Americans making great financial sacrifices so the administration can spread around more money. Reagan’s budgets, by contrast, reflected a preference for private-sector prosperity over government growth.

Government growth is what we’re going to get with Mr. Obama shoveling out $3.7 trillion in 2012 - a mere $90 billion less than what was spent last year. That appears to be a “cut” of about 2.3 percent, but the reduction is illusory. Mr. Obama’s masterful trick has been to lock the “temporary” trillion-dollar stimulus spending into Washington’s permanent financial blueprint. Compared to the 2008 budget of President George W. Bush, Mr. Obama wants outlays boosted a full 25 percent.

Over the next decade, that adds up to $8.9 trillion in new debt, or $97,555 for each American who pays taxes. The first wave of taxes will reach $1.6 trillion by the reckoning of Americans for Tax Reform. Although Mr. Obama asserts that only “millionaires and billionaires” will be affected, don’t believe it. Among the proposed hikes are an increase in the top marginal income tax rate from 35 to 39.6 percent, an increase in the capital-gains rate from 15 to 20 percent, an increase in the death tax from 35 to 45 percent, and a cap on itemized deductions for mortgage interest, medical expenses and charity.

New taxes on banking, business and energy will be passed on to consumers rich and poor alike, but we won’t be getting much for our money. “If you look at that budget,” Mr. Obama said, “there’s a whole bunch of stuff in there for job creation.” The added expenditure is meant to pump up infrastructure and so-called clean-energy projects, which he referred to as “industries of the future.” In reality, this means subsidies for trains, toll roads and windmills. Trains are a 19th-century relic, and the other two have been around since the Middle Ages. Few Americans, if asked, would want to make a personal $100,000 contribution to any of these antiquated boondoggles.

The president might appear to have more of a case when claiming extra money allocated to education represents an investment in the future. Yet this too is part of the Obama administration’s legerdemain. Added funding for schools does more to enrich bureaucracy and pay back the president’s union supporters than it does to make our children smarter. If it were otherwise, public schools in Washington - which sit near the top of the leader board with $15,000 in per-pupil spending - would also land in the top five in academic performance. Curiously, Democratic leaders, including the president, don’t think D.C. public schools are good enough for their own families.

For the sake of those families who will be saddled with the burden of paying for first citizen Obama’s trillions in new spending, House Republicans ought to use every leverage at their disposal - including the debt ceiling - to block this unsustainable plan. Congress really needs to step up and win this one for the real Gipper.


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