On Wednesday, President Obama unveiled his proposal for fixing the nation's ballooning deficits. In his 43-minute speech, Obama outlined cuts to non-discretionary and military spending, savings from Medicare and Social Security, and a hike in taxes for the wealthy. The result, he said, would be $4 trillion shaved off projected budget deficits over the next 12 years. The president's speech was a response to the Republican budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which included deeper spending cuts, a complete retooling of Medicare, and big tax cuts. Is the president's plan a realistic roadmap for long-term deficit reduction?
Yes. Obama's plan is workable policy: Obama did not propose a grand philosophical plan, says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post. "Few Democrats would say their vision of balancing the budget is one in which there was only one dollar of new taxes for every three dollars of spending cuts." But unlike Ryan, Obama chose to ignore ideological fantasy in favor of "the sort of policy that might pass and might work."
"Obama's budget is policy, not philosophy"
No. It's all smoke and mirrors: This is "dishonest even by modern political standards," says The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Obama conjured up "mystery cuts" without providing any details, claimed his health care reform law could solve all our medical cost problems, and "rallied the Left" with tax cuts for the rich that would barely bring any noticeable revenue back to the Treasury. "Blistering partisanship and multiple distortions" won't solve our fiscal crisis.
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It's still more realistic than Ryan's budget: Obama's budget proposal has been "wonk-tested" to ensure the numbers add up, says Paul Krugman at The New York Times. Which is more than you can say for Ryan's plan. Republicans falsely claim we can "make $3 trillion in tax cuts revenue neutral," and project an inconceivable 2.8 percent unemployment rate. I don't find Obama's budget entirely convincing — but at least it's honest.
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What does it matter? Americans don't care about the deficit: Washington is in the midst of a "deficit frenzy," says David Dayen at Firedoglake, but Americans couldn't care less. What they're really focused on is "the fact that millions of people are out of work." Why are we talking about cuts, when we should be talking about creating jobs? If we cracked our unemployment problem, "we could recover half of the deficit created by falling tax receipts."
"Obama's budget speech: Nice rhetoric, misplaced focus"
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