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Geithner says administration lacks solution to debt problem

Expressing admiration last May for  “Congressman Paul Ryan’s honest attempt to save Medicare”, Jon Huntsman wrote that critics of “his approach incur a moral responsibility to propose reforms that would ensure Medicare’s ability to meet its responsibilities to retirees without imposing an unaffordable tax burden on future generations of Americans.

Today, as James Pethokoukis reports at the Enterprise Blog, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner took issue with Ryan”s comprehensive plan to put the nation back on a sound fiscal footing, telling the House Budget Committee Chairman “the following: ‘We’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution to that long-term problem. What we do know is we don’t like yours.’”  (Via Instapundit.)

What a perfect illustration of the failure of this administration to offer leadership to one of the nation’s most pressing problems.  We sure don’t like your solution, but, well, we don’t have one of our own.

Just as critics of Ryan’s Medicare reforms had a moral responsibility, to borrow Huntsman’s expression, to offer a plan of their own, so too do critics of the Republican budget have a responsibility to address the long-term problem of federal debt.  Indeed, during the campaign, Obama said that “we’re going to have to embrace a culture and an ethic of responsibility, all of us, corporations, the federal government, and individuals out there who may be living beyond their means.

His latest budget makes clear that, in his fourth year in office, he’s not prepared to embrace that culture or that ethic. (more…)

Federal debt increase under Obama to surpass that under W*

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:36 pm - February 16, 2012.
Filed under: Big Government Follies

The national debt, Mark Knoller reported last August, “was $10.626 trillion on the day Mr. Obama took office.”  Today, writes Tyler Durden, “the US total debt rose by $32 billion touching on a new record high of $15.392 trillion” – an increase of 4.766 trillion.  And Obama has not yet been in office for 37 months.  By contrast, “The national debt increased $4.9 trillion during the eight-year [96-month] presidency of George W. Bush.

Having served 59 months (and 4 days) longer than Obama, Bush saw the federal debt increase by only $0.124 trillion (124 billion) more.

With the budget he released on Monday, the president seems oblivious to the magnitude of the problem, as Durden observes, according to that very blueprint “total US debt is now expected to surpasses the greatest and final debt ceiling of $16.4 trillion just around September, and likely sooner with the addition of the $160 billion in additional debt needed to fund the extension of the Bush temporary yet perpetual tax cut through the end of 2012.”  (Read the whole thing.)

His concern is that the federal government will again be issuing more debt that  it is collecting in taxes.

* (more…)

The specious notion of Obama’s bipartisanship

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:09 pm - February 16, 2012.
Filed under: Obamania,Real Reform

Of all the liberal notions about Barack Obama, perhaps the most specious is that of his bipartisanship.  When House Democrats crafted his “stimulus,” they didn’t consult with Republicans.  Indeed, when one Republican objected to some of its provisions, he rebuked him by saying simply, “I won.”

Earlier this week, Noam Scheiber articulated the liberal notion in a post at the New Republic’s blog, quoting Mark Schmitt, once of The American Prospect, who put it thusly:

[P]erhaps we are being too literal in believing that “hope” and bipartisanship are things that Obama naively believes are present and possible, when in fact they are a tactic…

One way to deal with that kind of bad-faith [conservative] opposition is to draw the person in, treat them as if they were operating in good faith, and draw them into a conversation about how they actually would solve the problem. If they have nothing, it shows.

Is this guy kidding himself?  It’s members of this conservative opposition who are putting forward solutions to our nation’s problem, as per this post today on Hot Air about a proposal to reform Medicare authored by Republicans Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Richard Burr (N.C.):

Coburn said it best when he explained to The Washington Times why they decided to release the plan in an election year, when it’s unlikely to actually go anywhere: “All of us in Congress are running around fixing everything except our biggest problem. If you don’t start fixing Medicare, you can’t save it.”

If the president were truly interesting in seeking bipartisan solutions, he would call these two men to his office and talk to them about their proposal.  He and Coburn became friends while serving together in the Senate.  And he would have called Paul Ryan last year when he put forward a plan to reform Medicare as part of a budget proposal to scale back federal spending.

But, as Michael Barone reports, though he wondered if his aides had looked at the proposals, he didn’t make any effort to contact the Republican leader himself: (more…)

A payroll tax cut we didn’t pay for

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:18 am - February 16, 2012.
Filed under: National Politics,Obama Watch

Perhaps the greatest irony of the tension between congressional Republicans, who want to hold the line on federal spending and the growth of government, and President Obama, who has ratcheted up federal spending and spurred the growth of the federal leviathan, is that he has outmaneuvered them on a plan to reduce the flow of revenue to Washington:

A payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans, set to expire at the end of this month, would be extended through December under a bipartisan deal announced early on Thursday by U.S. congressional leaders.

The accord would also renew expiring jobless benefits for millions of others and prevent a pay cut for doctors of elderly Medicare patients.

The comprehensive agreement represents a victory for President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats in Congress, and allows Republicans to put behind them a tax debate that threatened to hurt them in the November elections.

Seems the Democrat learned well from Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.  Tax cuts are good for the economy and popular with voters.

The president, however, hasn’t indicated how he plans to compensate for the funds that will no longer flow to Social Security.  “The payroll tax,” as Mario Loyola reminds us, “is a uniform (non-progressive) tax invented as a way for all American workers to pay into the Social Security and Medicare benefits that virtually all of them will be eligible for when they retire.”  And we learned this week that Social Security Is Failing Even Faster Than We Thought. (more…)

Election officials see dead people?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:06 am - February 16, 2012.
Filed under: Random Thoughts

A depiction of a Democratic precinct walker on Election Day?

Recall that in the tight Minnesota Senate race in 2008, the tallies had Al Franken beating Norm Coleman by 2,500 fewer votes than the number of “deceased individuals voted in [that] November’s general election“.

It’s not just Minnesota.  Earlier this week, the Pew Center on the States reported that “more than 1.8 million dead people are currently registered to vote.”  Ever since the first Mayor Daley, the dead tended to vote disproportionally for the Democrat.  And President Obama was schooled in Daley’s Chicago machine.

No, AOL, Mitt Romney did not “hit” back at Sarah Palin

From the headlines on AOL yesterday:

He, merely, as your own reporting indicates, challenged her assessment of his political leanings:

Mitt Romney defended his conservative credentials on Wednesday, deflecting doubtful comments made by Sarah Palin about his strength with Republican voters.

In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” the former GOP vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor said that she was “not convinced” by Romney’s conservatism.

When asked about Palin’s comments on Wednesday, Romney defended his conservatism, giving a laundry list of examples. (more…)