Wednesday, April 13, 2011
A couple of things stood out in the speech for me today.
--The President was honest and blunt with his own party when it came to the discussion of having to reform entitlement spending in order to save the programs. It's a shame he wasn't able to muster the same clarity and sensibility in his evaluation of Mr. Ryan's plans to do the same thing.
--As I predicted here a few days ago, a centerpiece of Mr. Obama's approach is going to be tax increases, specifically, raising the current tax rates to their pre-President Bush levels. Interestingly, the President referred to "new tax breaks" several times in the speech, as if his agreement with the Republicans in December to not increase tax rate, counted somehow as a "tax break". The income tax rates that have existed in this country since 2003 are the baseline, and any changes to those rates are henceforth to be referred to as "increases" or "cuts" depending in the direction the adjustment is made.
--The President spoke several times of "shared" sacrifice, and just as many times seemed to inoculate a broad swath of our society from such pain's impact. Who you ask? "Seniors"--as if simply getting old in our society was in some way a rationale for being treated differently. Nonsense. Seniors with means should be treated no differently from others in the same tax bracket or the same economic strata. NEED should be the determinant of benefit, not AGE.
--The President made a really loony statement when he asserted that "most" wealthy Americans agreed with him that they should pay higher taxes in order to "give more back" to the country. What is his evidence for this? "We just haven't asked them" was further nuance added to this silliness.
--I am all for eliminating certain deductions in the tax code (mortgage interest deduction chief among them), but I refer to such ideas by what they are--tax increases. The President's selection of the tortured "spending reductions in the tax code" is just another ridiculous example of Washingtonspeak.
The best part of the speech came toward the end when he spoke of the "sharp and vigorous" debate that had attended to issues of this kind in the past, and that would assuredly accompany this era. He said that such a debate was not a bad thing. I agree with him. These are big and important issues, the kinds of issues worth a protracted and spirited tussle. I am quite certain he is going to get one.