Obama's Budget: Playing Devil's Advocate

In the last week, many liberal Democrats have taken to ridiculing the center-right and right-wing reaction to the administration's budget proposal. They say the opposition is talking as if the sky is falling, when in fact President Obama is simply trying to right 30 years worth of Reaganomics' wrongs. E.J. Dionne Jr., the president's personal cheerleader in print, says capitalism isn't going anywhere; it's just going to operate in a way that properly redistributes wealth from the wealthy to the working class. Daniel Gross of Slate asked, "What war on the rich?" And White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took on Jim Cramer, a CNBC Obama supporter during the election, who called the president's plan the greatest wealth destruction by a president that he'd ever seen. Gibbs implied Cramer's opinion was simply a Chicken Little tirade that deserved little more than laughter.

All the banter may just be politics as usual, but for the sake of intellectual honesty, let's examine whether the left could in fact be right. Maybe opponents of the president's budget proposal are overreacting.

The U.S. budget currently stands at 20 percent of the gross domestic product; the Obama budget would raise that to 22 percent. Many on the left claim a two percent rise is far from socialistic and is well worth the ability to provide health care to all Americans in some form or fashion. Looked at in simple percentage points, it doesn't seem like much (even though in dollars, it amounts to an additional $280 billion per year).