Obama is ideologically committed to class warfare, tax hikes, and the growth of government. He attempted to use this formula to jump start the economy–thus the trillion dollar stimulus–and this strategy has failed miserably, but he has learned no important lessons from this. Republicans believe the opposite formula, one of fiscal austerity, will strengthen the economy, prevent runaway inflation, reduce energy prices, set the foundation for future growth and stability, free up money for investment in the private sector and all the rest. The debate between these two philosophies was the essential conflict of the 2010 election. And the small government (or at least smaller government) philosophy of the Republicans won in spades.
Legislators, being legislators, compromise and work things out. House and Senate Republicans and Democrats have apparently reached a deal to temporarily raise the debt limit, but it is coupled with future cuts of various kinds that would theoretically reduce the deficit in the long term. This is all perhaps a bit ambitious; Americans don’t seem to do debt reduction very well. But it is, nonetheless, in keeping with the spirit of the times and a start.
Obama has attempted scaremongering and naked class warfare rhetoric for months now to prevent such a deal, even though his original budget back in April, far from reducing the deficit, would increase it radically. Realizing its unpopularity, he now claims the mantle of deficit hawk, but his real passion is for wealth redistribution, and hence his desire to raise taxes at all costs, even as his own stimulus-based economic philosophy would counsel against it.
Being of the long view, I’d be happy to keep taxes where they are or even a little higher if this country went on a fanatical debt reduction program. But, at the very least, I recognize government spending drives those deficits and must be cut to begin to get a handle on things. Whether borrowed or taxed, the money sucked out of the real economy by the government must be reduced from it’s current 40% or so level. We’ve seen in Greece and Italy (and let’s not forget 20 years ago in the Soviet Union) that overly generous welfare states are simply unaffordable. They tax initiative and hard work as much as they do income, and, even if that were not the case, “money don’t grow on trees.”
Obama always portrays himself as beyond politics, reasonable, and exasperated. But, in truth, he is ideological, rigid, and unwilling to adjust to the tone of the new Congress, even as Harry Reid and others show what are by comparison Ciceronian levels of good sense under the circumstances.
I believe for the smallish number of Americans following this, Obama doesn’t look so good, not least because his whole passion seems to push through tax cuts without regard to the recent and heightened concern for the deficit. The deficit concern of so many Americnas is not a concern borne of a belief in the need for more fair distribution of the economic pie, though some people have such a view; it is, rather, a real fear among a great many Americans that our country is headed for a crisis, one of default and forced austerity, along with the concomitant view that such a crisis is more easily dealt with now than at fiscal gunpoint so to speak. The President does not get that, and thus he has been forced to rely on what are, in my opinion, not-terribly-effective rhetorical devices such as attempting to make this discussion one about corporate jets. Our tax code very well could and should be reformed and simplified, but that is no reason not cut the deficit. The President does not get that, because he doesn’t care so much about the deficit or the growth of government. Rather, he really really cares about taking money from the productive and giving it to the parasite class that make up the Democratic base.