President Barack Obama unveiled his long-awaited deficit reduction plan Wednesday, calling for a mix of spending reductions and tax hikes that the White House claims would cut federal deficits by $4 trillion over the next 12 years without gutting popular programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Obama’s plan includes a repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts on families making more than $250,000 annually — something sought by Democrats but strongly opposed by Republicans. The president also called for the creation of a “debt fail-safe” trigger that would impose automatic across-the-board spending cuts and tax changes in coming years if annual deficits are on track to exceed 2.8% of the nation’s gross domestic product…
At the same time, Obama blasted the House Republican 2012 budget proposal unveiled last week, saying it would “lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we’ve known throughout most of our history.”
“These are the kind of cuts that tell us we can’t afford the America that I believe in and that I think you believe in,” Obama said of the plan by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who sat in the audience Wednesday. “I believe it paints a vision of our future that’s deeply pessimistic. “
Proposing once again to rescind the 2003 “Bush tax cuts” for wealthy Americans, while basing part of his plan on health care reform’s cost savings and preserving Medicare, seems to be a game plan that Obama can hit Republicans back with credibly while shoring up relations with the Democratic base–even as he concedes the underlying argument about deficits.
In our view, Democrats cannot afford to have this debate without mentioning the historic Bush tax cuts, and the new tax cuts proposed in the Ryan budget plan, at every possible opportunity. It’s the insistence on further tax cuts by the GOP, irrespective of needs, in place of a realistic debate about priorities, that fundamentally de-legitimizes the “Path to Prosperity.”
The outcome of the 2012 elections may well depend on which spin wins…