Acting quickly on President Obama’s record-smashing budget proposal, the House and Senate passed separate $3.5 trillion spending plans, paving the way for negotiations on a final budget next week. The measures passed without a single Republican vote, as Republicans railed against the level of spending as well as the $1.2 trillion deficit projected for next year. The plans don’t include Obama’s complex energy and health-care initiatives, but they deliver on Obama’s pledge to raise taxes on incomes above $250,000. Obama called the measures “an important step toward rebuilding our struggling economy.” But Republicans vowed to continue to sound the alarm. This budget, said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, amounts to “a dramatic and potentially irreversible shift of our nation to the Left.”
Don’t look now, said Michael J. Boskin in The Wall Street Journal, but Obama and the Democrats have committed our nation to future massive tax increases. Not that they’ll admit that. But their budget would add an eye-popping $6.5 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. Our deficits are reaching “banana republic levels,” and will leave future policymakers no choice but to raise taxes—and not just on the rich. “Call it a stealth tax increase, or a ticking tax time bomb.”
There’s always the Republicans’ “breathtakingly dishonest” alternative, said Christopher Orr in The New Republic Online. Pressed to produce their own budget, Republicans devised a plan to cut the top marginal tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Of course that would spawn even bigger deficits, so they posited a fantasyland in which taxpayers would voluntarily “pay the higher rate anyway.” No wonder voters kicked them out of power.
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Democrats better watch their backs, too, said Janet Hook in the Los Angeles Times. Obama’s ambitious plans are built for the long term, but Democrats have reason to be worried about the short-term political costs. That could explain why they have deflected one of Obama’s most ambitious initiatives, the “cap and trade” program for pollution credits. Their message to Obama: “We can’t do it all at once.”
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