- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Here we go again. Last week, President Obama asked Congress for a $1.2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling - this $1.2 trillion to cover the government’s bills in 2012. This just after he apparently wastes the taxpayer money to fly his dog from Hawaii to Washington to go Christmas shopping with him.

The idea when the debt-ceiling-increase agreement was struck last summer was that in exchange, spending restraint would follow.

Flying your dog from Hawaii to the District is not an example of spending restraint.

In last summer’s “agreement,” the debt ceiling would automatically go up in three stages, unless Republicans passed a “resolution of disapproval,” within 15 days. But no one will even be around to disapprove since the Congress won’t be back in session until Tuesday, Jan. 17.

At any rate, an ensuing fight would occur just in time for the 2012 election, providing a fresh opportunity for Mr. Obama, who increasingly sounds like a demagogue-in-chief, to cast Republicans as protectors of the rich; he the fearless defender of the middle class.

Since Mr. Obama has put Social Security in the red, given his payroll tax endless holiday, he could once again hold old people hostage, as he did last summer, by saying unless Congress passes the debt ceiling, they will not get their Social Security checks.

He wouldn’t be exactly lying. Last year, the payroll tax holiday drained $105 billion more from Social Security than it took in - the first deficit in its 75-year history - representing one-tenth of the debt-ceiling increase he is now requesting.

That Mr. Obama is simultaneously portraying himself as a defender of the middle class represents historic hubris - at least for the leader of the Free World.

If, perchance, you do think the rich alone will pay for this $1.2 trillion increase, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

But Mr. Obama shamelessly demagogues the issue, saying re-elect me so, once and for all, we can get the wealthy to pay their fair share.

I wish that it were so easy. But, economic growth is all about having the right incentives and raising taxes doesn’t do the job - not by a mile. So after his election, more government would be prescribed since the economy still won’t be healing itself - all the rosy predictions for 2012 notwithstanding. With deficits growing, yet more taxes - paid by “the wealthy,” of course - would be needed, by which point the definition of “wealthy” would be absurdly low. Before we know it, we would have morphed into Europe at the very time Europe is prescribing austerity and trying to be more like America when we were still the “shining city on the hill.”

So, what’s the solution?

Enjoy your vacation, Republicans, and give Mr. Obama his debt-ceiling increase. Election Day will help balance the books.

For those who fear a recovering economy will keep Mr. Obama and his profligate ways in the White House four more years, I have another bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

Mary Claire Kendall, a Washington-based writer, served in the Department of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush.

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