On Wednesday afternoon, the president announced a proposal to reduce the projected U.S. deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years, with a combination of spending cuts and targeted tax increases. (Watch an excerpt here.) Obama's plan would slash $750 billion in discretionary spending, save $500 billion by reducing health care waste, and raise revenue by letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire. The president also said that if budget targets weren't met by 2014, a "debt fail-safe" would kick in, forcing even greater spending cuts. Obama labeled the Republican plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan a "vision of our future that's deeply pessimistic." In contrast, he said, his plan would enable Americans to "live within our means while still investing in our future." Here, some initial reactions to the president's speech:
It was a passionate defense of liberal values: Obama's speech was an "unapologetic defense of a progressive vision of government," says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly, and included a welcome, "full-throated condemnation" of Ryan's irresponsible plan. Some liberals worry that Obama is afraid to defend "the institutions of the modern welfare state," like Medicare and Medicaid, which Ryan's proposal would radically change. But Obama reminded Americans that the modern welfare state is "worthy of a spirited defense." It was exactly what we needed to hear.
"A spirited defense of a progressive vision"
It was a whole load of nothing: Obama was content to attack "the only viable debt-reduction plan out there," says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post, instead of offering any substantive solutions of his own. No "Social Security fix," no "alternative to top-down rationing of Medicare," no details on how to reform the corporate tax code. Instead, all we got was "more defense cuts and taxes on the rich." Well, that won't solve our problems — nor will it help Obama in 2012.
"The president speaks, says very little"
It wisely aimed for the political center: This was "classic Obama," says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast, offering a "center-left approach" to the "center-right conviction" that painful solutions are required to tackle the debt. He wisely noted the GOP's refusal to "ask anything from the top one percent." "After the cold shock of the Ryan plan," Obama's "less draconian vision" will surely swing the political center back in his direction.
"Live-blogging Obama's moment of fiscal truth"
It was about winning in 2012, not winning the future: The speech sounded "more like the opening salvo of a political campaign" than a bipartisan proposal, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. Obama's attack on the Bush tax cuts for the rich was a "purely political move," and his decision to go after Ryan's plan is "clearly making the bet that the American public doesn't want to give up the federal government they've become used to." This wasn't about solving a problem; this was about "laying the groundwork for 2012."
"Obama’s solution to deficit: Spending cuts, tax increases, few specifics, but a clear roadmap for 2012