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Obama Digs in His Heels on Taxes

"Revenue enhancements" must be on the table, the president insists.

by
Peter Roff

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July 12, 2011 - 12:00 am
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In a remarkable performance Monday, President Barack Obama dug in his heels, insisting that new taxes and new revenues had to be part of any grand deal struck to avoid going over the debt ceiling.

Obama used his midday presser to argue for “a balanced approach” that included some kind of revenue enhancements as the price for slicing away at entitlements and other government programs, if not now then in a few years.

“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 when they’re making billions of dollars of profits,” the president said.  “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 billionaires and millionaires can afford to pay a little bit more.”

Mangled syntax aside, what Obama is saying is, in essence, if you have more you should expect to pay more. Unfortunately, class envy is a poor foundation on which to base a program to create growth in the U.S. economy.

“President Obama has proven once again that he stands for nothing besides higher taxes, continued borrowing and bigger government,” said Heritage Action CEO Michael A. Needham in an interview with PJMedia. “Until this president enters ‘tax and spend rehab’ there is nothing to talk about and he should have to live under the debt limit. This is, after all, why the debt limit exists.”

For his part, Obama is looking at this as a clash between cutting entitlements and raising taxes — two forces that are polar opposites of one another. What he neglects is that there are other options out there, among them the “Cut, Cap and Balance” approach that began as a pledge and has, in the last week, become legislation in the Senate and will soon become a bill in the House.

Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring! and a leader of the broad-based coalition backing the approach, told PJMedia, “It’s now clear that something has to break the logjam, and one real game-changer has emerged: the Cut, Cap and Balance Act that would give the president what he says he must have, a debt ceiling increase of around $2 trillion, but if and only if a balanced budget amendment with real teeth passes both the House and the Senate.”

“The balanced budget amendment is an 80 percent issue with the public,” Hanna adds. “The political risk lies in opposing it, not supporting it.  Democrats will be hard pressed to object if it’s the one remaining obstacle between them and the debt ceiling increase, and Republicans will swallow hard and approve an increase if it brings with it the promise of a permanent fix through a balanced budget amendment. It’s the only solution on the horizon that can bring the sides together for the good of the nation as a whole.”

Indeed, the legislative pivot in which the Republicans are now engaged — to pass a debt ceiling increase with a budget deal that cuts the deficit and caps spending, and which goes into effect only upon the passage of a balanced budget amendment — is strategically smart. Rather than take the amendment first, the newer approach makes the debt ceiling increase a carrot which can only be reached by swinging the BBA stick.

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