President Obama defended his deficit-reduction plan on Monday, saying that there's no way to shrink growing budget deficits without both spending cuts and new taxes. Republicans say the $1.5 trillion in new taxes Obama wants under his $3 trillion proposal amounts to an attack on the wealthy. But Obama argues that "this is not class warfare. It's math." Is Obama just being practical, or is he further politicizing the budget battles?

Do the math. You can't shrink the deficit without taxes: Billionaire hedge-fund executives really do pay a lower rate "than their chauffeurs and private chefs," says Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post, because investment earnings are taxed less heavily than wages. Republicans and "their upper-crust patrons" hate the idea of making tycoons pay their "fair share." But to anyone who's serious about reducing our debt, it's just "common sense."
"Obama's tax plan is common sense, not class warfare"

This isn't math. It's divisive politics: "Obama couldn't get Congress to raise taxes on higher earners to pre-Bush levels when the Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress," says John Hinderaker at Power Line. Obviously, he knows full well it won't happen with Republicans running the House. The president isn't really interested in reducing the deficit. He just wants to help Democrats sell themselves as the friends of the poor and middle class in 2012. That's not math, it's "demagoguery."
"$1.5 trillion in new taxes? Ho hum"

This is poker, not math: Obama's deficit-reduction plan — and his job-creation plan — "are best considered opening bids in an ongoing negotiation, a poker game being played at a time of maximum party polarization," says John Avlon at The Daily Beast. Instead of compromising at the outset, Obama is clearly articulating his position and daring Republicans to do the same. And make no mistake: For the GOP, "there is political risk in simply refusing all these proposals" — particularly a tax on millionaires — "just because they come from the president."
"Obama's debt-reduction dare"