The reason President Obama and Republicans can’t come to an agreement on the fiscal cliff negotiations is that they don’t share the same goals. This is also the key to understanding why President Obama appears far less worried about going over the cliff.
Republicans are focused on restoring the nation’s financial health by promoting economic growth and reducing our horrendous deficits and debt. President Obama’s primary aim is to complete his project of fundamentally transforming America.
I ask you loyal Democrats to please consider these things. Obama has demonstrated almost no concern for our crushing debt or deficits – at least not since calling President George W. Bush unpatriotic for presiding over deficits and debt dramatically smaller than his own.
Obama’s treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, showed a casual indifference to our debt when responding to questions from Rep. Paul Ryan during budget hearings. He flippantly admitted the administration had no long-term plan for bringing our debt under control and was unapologetic for having failed to submit any plan to restructure our entitlements.
When David Letterman asked Obama about the size of the national debt, Obama couldn’t even make a guess. It seemed to be the furthest thing from his mind.
But Obama’s cynicism about the debt doesn’t change the fact that it is a looming national crisis. It’s undeniable that our entitlement obligations are growing at an unsustainable pace and that our national debt and the annual mandatory interest payments on it are reaching alarming heights.
The budget debates essentially boil down to the Republicans’ desire to return the nation to financial health vs. Obama’s desire to use the government’s taxing and spending powers as tools to remake America in his image rather than to facilitate economic growth or balance the budget.
Before you write off my comments as unfairly partisan, I ask you to ponder Obama’s major negotiating demands. He is insistent, is he not, on increasing tax rates and reducing deductions for higher-income earners, even though it’s an objective fact that Obama’s plan to raise taxes on just a small percentage of Americans would not generate enough revenue to make a significant dent in our nation’s deficits or debt. He has to be demanding this change, then, for other reasons. I can think of none, other than his idea of fairness, by which he means punishing the rich, even if it won’t improve the economy or our fiscal picture.
Further, he has stubbornly resisted meaningful spending cuts and has absolutely continued to dig his heels in over GOP efforts to reform entitlements to avoid our nation’s impending financial meltdown.
On top of all this, Obama wants $80 billion more in “stimulus” spending. Can you believe this? In budget negotiations that are supposed to be about fiscal sanity, he’s wedded to yet more federal spending of money we don’t have. Finally, he is demanding that Republicans surrender their authority to set limits on future spending through budget ceilings.
As you can see, Obama’s goal of fundamentally remaking America happens to be nearly incompatible with economic growth and national solvency.
Don’t you see? There is no way Obama can do what he was born to do – remake America in his image – unless he continues to implement the very policies that drove us toward this cliff in the first place. Obama’s ideology compels him to keep spending borrowed money and increase growth-suppressing tax rates on the very people whose productivity is imperative for economic growth. Maybe Obama cares some about economic growth and our national deficits and debt. Maybe not. Either way, he’s tied to policies that harm both.
Republicans, for their part, are trying to get our spending and entitlements under control and to keep tax rates no higher than they are, not to protect the rich – although the last time I looked, the Constitution applies to them, too – but to protect economic growth and foster liberty.
Contrary to Obama’s class-warfare propaganda, it is his own policies, not those of Republicans, that promote greed and envy, by keeping people worked up about how much the other guy is making rather than encouraging them to become productive members of society.
How convenient for Obama that he can advance his goal of redistributing income and assets by characterizing Republicans as people who care only about the rich, which is absurd on its face.
A national leader who believed in America’s founding principles and who subscribed to promoting equal opportunity rather than equal outcomes would be encouraging people off the government dependency cycle and into productive jobs. He would be seeking long-term solutions to our national debt rather than downplaying the crisis and using class warfare to facilitate his goal of social engineering.
The question is not whether America will wake up, but when.