President Obama gave a press conference today to pressure Republicans to give in to his demand for higher taxes. Much could be said about it; here are a few observations.
First, one of Obama’s recurrent themes was, “If not now, when?” As, for example, in this part of his prepared remarks:
First of all, all of us agree that we should use this opportunity to do something meaningful on debt and deficits. …
What I emphasized to the broader group of congressional leaders yesterday is now is the time to deal with these issues. If not now, when? I’ve been hearing from my Republican friends for quite some time that it is a moral imperative for us to tackle our debt and our deficits in a serious way.
If not now, when? How about two years ago? Or last year? Or in February, when Obama proposed a budget that contemplated, on the most optimistic assumptions, adding at least $600 billion of new debt every year for the next decade? Obama is now fixated on the “deadline” of August 2, 2011, but where was he in 2009? Or 2010? Or prior to last week? It has been over two years since the federal government has had a budget. For Obama to adopt a sanctimonious “eat your peas” approach to the federal budget is so disingenuous that it is not surprising that Republicans find him infuriating to negotiate with.
Second, Obama’s dishonesty with regard to tax increases continues. His grand bargain contemplates raising trillions of dollars through higher taxes, yet he pretends that this revenue will somehow come from reversing the stimulus bill’s treatment of depreciation of corporate jets, and similarly painless measures:
What we have talked about is that starting in 2013, that we have gotten rid of some of these egregious loopholes that are benefiting corporate jet owners or oil companies at a time where they’re making billions of dollars of profits. What we have said is as part of a broader package we should have revenues, and the best place to get those revenues are from folks like me who have been extraordinarily fortunate, and that millionaires and billionaires can afford to pay a little bit more — going back to the Bush tax rates.
That reference to the Bush tax rates was intended, apparently, as a backhanded admission that he isn’t insisting only on taxing billionaires and their jets. Have we ever had a politician more disingenuous than Barack Obama? Not that I can recall.
Third, Obama projects his own intransigence onto his Republican opponents:
Q Do you see any path to a deal if they don’t budge on taxes?
THE PRESIDENT: I do not see a path to a deal if they don’t budge, period. I mean, if the basic proposition is “it’s my way or the highway,” then we’re probably not going to get something done because we’ve got divided government.
Of course, in Obama’s world, it is his way or the highway: gigantic tax increases, or no deal. Obama says he will veto either a short-term fix or any solution that doesn’t involve higher taxes. So who is intransigent?
Fourth, Rip Van Obama appears to have slept through the Bush years:
And part of what the Republican caucus generally needs to recognize is that American democracy works when people listen to each other, we’re willing to give each other the benefit of the doubt, we assume the patriotism and good intentions of the other side, and we’re willing to make some sensible compromises to solve big problems. And I think that there are members of that caucus who haven’t fully arrived at that realization yet.
So we should give each other the benefit of the doubt, and assume the patriotism and good intentions of the other side. And it is the Republicans who need to learn this lesson? Really? Really? The Democrats obviously consider malice to be a one-way street; but, while Republicans have been remarkably generous, there are limits.
Finally, Obama’s presser showed the Democrats’ pet press at its worst. If I am not mistaken, every single question from a reporter came from the left. This, in the view of the White House press corps, is the question of the moment: is President Obama being too reasonable in dealing with those nasty Republicans? Unbelievable.