This, from one of the most partisan and fatuous public officials in America today.
Then there’s the deal itself, which also was OK’d last night by the House.
Yes, as crafted by President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, it avoided the risk of economic Armageddon — the fiscal cliff of massive tax increases and big budget cuts. But it does nothing about what the nation really needs — meaningful legislation to address the core problems of slow economic growth, out-of-control entitlement spending and runaway debt.
All it does is kick the budget-cut can down the road a couple of months, while raising taxes on families making $450,000 and individuals earning $400,000.
Credit Obama with refining his definition of “millionaires and billionaires”: They’re no longer families with a combined yearly income of just $250,000 (and no matter if they have kids in college and lots of other taxes to pay). Now you have to make $400,000 a year to be living (in the president’s mind) like Warren Buffett.
But that’s about all Obama deserves credit for now. He’s enacting the largest tax hike this country has seen in decades, with no reform of those runaway entitlements and nothing to address the country’s economic ills.
In fact, the deal just makes those ills worse.
For a guy who once billed himself as the first post-partisan president, Obama sounded not just partisan but also petulant in unveiling the agreement on Monday.
Yes, he won big; Republicans gave up a lot because they had such a weak hand — they risked getting blamed for another recession unless they gave in on tax hikes.
But Obama trumpeted his victory in a campaign-style speech (in front of a handpicked crowd) as if he had won a big one over the Taliban — rather than over Republicans whom he’ll have to work with in the coming months as other budget battles loom, particularly over raising the debt ceiling.
You couldn’t help but notice how the president stammered through his nasty rhetoric — a TelePrompTer problem? Nor did it make much sense, as he first blamed “this Congress” for failing to enact a big deficit-cutting deal (as if he has no say in the matter) and then vowed not to let those nasty Republicans ram budget cuts down the country’s throat.
It was, of course, vintage Obama — but so was the whole weeks-long drama. The reality is that the president never wanted to get his hands dirty by negotiating in earnest with McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner. He plainly just wanted to use the fiscal-cliff drama to bludgeon the Republicans (aided by his media allies), painting them as evil and uncompromising when in fact they were willing to give in to most of his demands — as they so far have.
Maybe the partisan victory dance was an effort to push House Republicans into rejecting the deal — giving him massive tax hikes without any political blame.
For all Obama’s much-stated willingness to compromise, the only ground he (reluctantly) gave was his absurd notion that families earning $250,000 a year are rolling in the dough and need to pay more taxes. Again, the deal offers no specific cuts to the entitlement programs that drive the country’s rapidly expanding debt. Nor does it offer much hope on our anemic economic growth.
In fact, this deal all but assures more anemic growth. Payroll taxes are set to rise on everyone, while a bunch of nasty new ObamaCare taxes go into effect. The deal’s tax-rate hikes yield a measly $600 billion in alleged revenues over 10 years — a drop in the bucket of our $16 trillion-and-growing national debt.
And that money comes from small-business owners who employ working-class people and from families who (particularly in New York) aren’t living like billionaires, though they do add mightily to economic growth.
People targeted by tax hikes usually respond by altering their behavior — such as cutting payroll if you’re a small-business owner, or cutting back on spending if you’re a family. Either way, the economy loses.
Yes, the Dow rose more than 100 points Monday on the euphoria of a deal. But a single day in the exchanges is just a snapshot of traders selling or buying on headlines. The markets rallied on news of the government bank bailout in 2008, only to fall to Depression-like levels in March 2009.
And, yes, a few conservative commentators have cheered the deal for preserving the Bush tax rates for all but a select few. Those suckers are presumably happy to consider Joe Biden as their “buddy.”