I haven’t yet seen a transcript of President Obama’s press conference this morning on the budget. No doubt I will have more to say after reading it. Based on the Washington Post’s account, however, the President seemed desperate to get the Republicans to agree to raise taxes. Any taxes:
Obama said he is willing to cut spending on a range of programs by more than $1 trillion, to trim the defense budget and to look for ways to control entitlement costs. But he said Republicans must agree to allow taxes to rise on the wealthiest Americans and to eliminate tax breaks for oil companies and corporate jet owners.
“It would be hard for Republicans to stand there and say that the tax break for corporate jets is sufficiently important that we’re not willing to come to the table and get a deal done,” Obama said.
One trillion dollars in cuts, presumably spread over a number of years, is virtually nothing–not even one year’s deficit. Conversely, the amount of tax revenue that would be raised by depriving oil companies of the same tax treatment accorded to others, or disallowing tax deductions for corporate jets, is risibly small. Presumably the real action in the president’s proposal lies in increasing taxes on “the wealthiest Americans.”
Most Americans understand that the federal government has a budget problem not because we don’t pay enough taxes, but rather because the government spends too much. Now is the time for Republicans to hold firm and demand meaningful cuts in spending. As usual, Michael Ramirez sums up the administration’s case well:
UPDATE: I like John Boehner’s response to Obama’s press conference:
The President’s remarks today ignore legislative and economic reality, and demonstrate remarkable irony. His administration has been burying our kids and grandkids in new debt and offered no plan to rein in spending. Republicans have been leading and offering solutions to put the brakes on this spending binge. The President has been AWOL from that debate.
The President is sorely mistaken if he believes a bill to raise the debt ceiling and raise taxes would pass the House. The votes simply aren’t there – and they aren’t going to be there, because the American people know tax hikes destroy jobs. They also know Washington has been on a spending binge for many years, and they will only tolerate a debt limit increase if we stop it.
The new majority in the House is going to stand with the American people. A debt limit increase can only pass the House if it includes spending cuts larger than the debt limit increase; includes reforms to hold down spending in the future; and is free from tax hikes. The longer the President denies these realities, the more difficult he makes this process. If the president embraces a measure that meets these tests, he has my word that the House will act on it. Anything less cannot pass the House.
UPDATE: More on the press conference here.