In a 4,000+ word speech today, Obama manged to outline no new proposals for cutting the deficit, said that everything should be on the table in bipartisan discussions, then talked about why the republicans were wrong and said Medicaid and Medicare shouldn’t be on the table.
The speech was so long and so boring it appeared to put Vice President Joe Biden to sleep for a solid 30 seconds. Note to Joe: you’re the flippin’ vice president, they’re going to have a camera on you, is it going to take until year four to figure that out?
Obama’s plan didn’t need 4,000 words, I can explain it in just a few: some cuts, raise taxes, don’t touch Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security (after all it’s an election year.)
So, with the being said, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of Obama’s speech.
But after Democrats and Republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990s, we lost our way in the decade that followed. We increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program – but we didn’t pay for any of this new spending. Instead, we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts – tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country; tax cuts that will force us to borrow an average of $500 billion every year over the next decade.
For starters, the spending problem goes back a lot further than the 1990′s, or even the 1980′s. This thing traces back to the 1930′s. We never seemed to have consistent debt problems until FDR’s New Deal. That’s not a coincidence.
Furthermore, it certainly wasn’t the wars and the prescription drug program that drove us into this fiscal crisis. We certainly didn’t do ourselves any favors from 2001 to today, but on January 20, 2001 the national debt was still at $5 trillion. So we had a problem long before Bush came to Washington. Even going back to January 20, 1993 the national debt was still at $4 trillion.
The idea that the Bush tax cuts made the problem worse is a fabrication. Fact is from 2003 to 2006 federal revenues grew by about $625 billion according to the CBO.
And the idea that the tax cuts went to “every millionaire and billionaire” in the country is extraordinarily misleading. The Bush tax cuts, for the 15,000th time, went to EVERYBODY. And the largest rate reduction went to the lowest earners, who went from a 15% rate to a 10% rate. The tax rates in 2001 were: 15%, 27.5%, 30.5%, 35.5%, 39.1%.
The rates in 2003 were, and still are today: 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%. The lowest earners got a 5% rate reduction, while the wealthy got a 4.1% reduction.
Also, Obama actually makes a very good point here…well, he does in theory. He says we added millions in spending early on last decade with no way of paying for it. Which is partially correct, after all tax revenues did increase. However, he begins to spell out the fundamental problem with tax increases in this statement. Just because you increase revenues does not mean that politicians will begin spending within the constraints of those new revenues.
For instance, you raise revenues by $1 trillion. What’s more likely to happen, the government runs a surplus and begins paying off the debt, or the government finds more things to spend money on to the tune of $1 trillion? It’s clearly the latter. We’ve raised revenues in the past and it never seems to fix the problem, that’s because there’s a good number of politicians who just turn around and start spending that money, instead of putting it towards paying down the debt.
So here’s the truth. Around two-thirds of our budget is spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national security. Programs like unemployment insurance, student loans, veterans’ benefits, and tax credits for working families take up another 20%. What’s left, after interest on the debt, is just 12 percent for everything else. That’s 12 percent for all of our other national priorities like education and clean energy; medical research and transportation; food safety and keeping our air and water clean.
This is all very true, so why not do something about entitlements? To this point Obama has been mum about cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. I’m sorry, he hasn’t been entirely mum about Social Security, he claims it’s not in a crisis, despite the fact that it will go bankrupt this year.
By the way, all those college kids that voted enthusiastically for Obama, I want you to look Obama in the face when he inevitably comes to your campus, and ask him if you’ll be getting a social security check when you retire. Because he’ll say yes and be lying to you. Ask him why he thinks the program isn’t in a crisis when, if we don’t do anything about it, our generation won’t be getting social security because it will bankrupt the government.
So after Obama explicitly said that we cannot just focus on the 12% in discretionary spending, that we have to put everything on the table, he then attacks the GOP’s proposal to…well, put everything on the table. He claims that the GOP’s budget and it’s reform of Medicaid and Medicare will “lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we’ve known throughout most of our history.”
Really Obama? Medicaid and Medicare have been around since 1965, that’s a total of 46 years. We’ve been a country since 1776, or 235 years. Which means we’ve had Medicaid and Medicare for about 20% of this country’s history. So no, reforming Medicaid and Medicare would not lead to a fundamentally different America than we’ve known throughout most of our history because throughout most of our history we haven’t even had Medicaid and Medicare.
He goes on to paint a little bit of a fearful image, “It’s a vision that says if our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, we can’t afford to fix them.”
But, gee, I only thought Glenn Beck was a fear mongerer. Look, the idea behind cutting the deficit is so we can repair our bridges and our roads. The idea to not having a $1.6 trillion deficit (like Obama’s last budget had) is so we can address those issues.
He goes on for about another three stanzas whining and crying about how this vision is an America where we have no health insurance and no car insurance and no butterflies and no candy, no apples, no automobiles, no sunny days, no clowns, no balloons, and we all live in a cloudy world where it rains 23 hours out of the day and we have to drag ourselves out of bed in the morning because the republicans took away any reason for us to ever want to leave the house again.
This speech was a campaign speech. It was not a policy speech, it was not a let’s fix this speech. It was pretend. He extended an arm across the isle for about five seconds until he quickly yanked it away and said, “gotcha!” He claimed he wanted everything on the table, and then quickly took off Medicaid and Medicare and didn’t even mention Social Security. There was no new proposals or policies, he again avoided any mention of policies from the debt commission, which he put together. And his only solution seems to be higher taxes, despite the fact that we’re still recovering from an economic collapse.
At least the Republicans put together a specific proposal that would cut the deficit. Obama has no specifics, he has broad ideas, but nothing solid.
Let’s be honest, if Republicans weren’t putting pressure on him to cut spending, he wouldn’t. This speech would have never happened and we would be continuing down a path of amazingly outrageous debt and high taxes. That’s the Obama way.
He’s serious about one thing, and one thing only. Getting re-elected and gaining more power. Let’s make sure he doesn’t get his wish.