Obama's chance to get back in the game
The president has an opportunity to take a liberal stance on reducing the deficit. Will he take it?
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Ruth seems to suggest the President has just accidentally stumbled onto the “wrong side of the field” (that would be the conservatives’ side), but I don’t think that’s so accidental after all. If he intended to play at all for the “other team” (that would be the liberals), he wouldn’t keep intentionally passing the then-Bush-now-Obama-tax-cuts ball to the conservatives. If the President intended to play on the liberals’ team (for at least part of the time anyway), he’d launch a strong offense that would propose a deficit-reduction plan based largely (mostly?) on raising revenue by reducing tax expenditures (a la Simpson-Bowles, although I’d suggest it would then be more “a la Bowles-Simpson”), and he would go further on the revenue-leaning side in order to provide a more adequate counter to the Ryan plan (which is all spending-side cuts). The President would say: hey, Ryan’s approach to reduce the deficit would virtually eliminate government programs outside of the entitlement programs–hey, that’s crazy! And he’d push back with his own approach to reduce the deficit by broadening the tax base and allowing revenues to rise as a share of our economy to levels even above the Bowles-Simpson ceiling of 21 percent, while explaining that he doesn’t like that ceiling because the “right” level of revenues has nothing to do with historical averages or any other arbitrary target but instead with what’s needed to adequately finance the government spending we as a society desire and deem “worth it.” (And the “right” size of government is the size we desire even when we have to fully pay for it–and by the way, isn’t necessarily properly measured by spending or revenues as a share of GDP!)Skip to next paragraph
'EconomistMom' (Diane Lim Rogers) is Chief Economist of the Concord Coalition, a non-partisan, non-profit organization which advocates for fiscal responsibility, and the mom of four (amazing) kids to whom she dedicates her work. She’s been blogging since Mother’s Day 2008.
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In my wildest fantasies, in his speech today the President would make these declarations about embracing the fiscal commission’s general tax reform strategy, underscoring the point by adding that “you know, let’s face it, the Bush tax cuts sucked, and I’m finally going to replace them with something better.” (Or something like that.)
But somehow I don’t think we’ve come any farther with the President on tax policy than a year ago (i.e., before the President got any ideas from his commission) when I wrote this open letter to him, concluding with:
I know you made an unfortunate campaign promise on tax policy that you feel bound to–to not raise taxes on any households with income under $250,000. But isn’t it more important to keep your greater (at least implicit) promise to the American people on keeping our economy strong, putting us on a better path (”changing” course), and leaving the nation in decent shape for our kids? You can’t keep both promises, and to me as an economist and as a mom–and I hope to you as our leader and a dad–it’s obvious which one you should abandon.
Happy Tax Day!
Mr. President, please pleasantly surprise me today! Seize control of that ball and start charging in the right direction! (And yes, I know you play the “court” more than the “field” Ruth was talking about.)
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