President Obama, as Fred Barnes reports in the Weekly Standards, has touted his “‘balanced’ approach to averting the fiscal cliff“, that is, a package which includes tax hikes as well as spending cuts.
Yet, the proposal Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner showed to House and Senate leaders failed to include any significant cuts, but did, in addition to higher taxes on “on wealthy Americans as well as higher taxes on capital gains and dividends“, it also included a “multiyear stimulus package with at least $50 billion for the 2013 fiscal year.” (The proposal even includes $600 billion in revenue “from unspecified revenue sources.”) Among the other proposal, there is a promise, at some future date, to try to find $400 billion in savings from Medicare and other social programs.
In short, it includes no specific spending cuts.
No wonder Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “burst into laughter” when Geithner outlined the proposal. He said “nothing good” was “happening” in the negotiations because Obama was unwilling to “embrace serious spending cuts.”
As Charles Krauthammer put it, “there not only are no cuts in this, there’s an increase in spending with a new stimulus” (at 0:28 in the video at the link).
And they called Obama the grown-up in the room? He — and his team — are not behaving like grownups. They’re not putting forward a serious plan to address the nation’s debt problem.
Will the legacy even report how laughable this proposal is–at a time of record deficits and the president paying lip service to spending cuts, he offers a plan that increases federal spending?
He seems to be counting on something which carried him through the presidential campaign — media cover. Don’t count on it. On CNN, Piers Morgan said “the president offered a tough fiscal cliff proposal to Congress, one that aides to John Boehner say — wait for it — he’s already rejected. Of course he has!”
The CNN talker puts the onus on Boehner, not pointing out that the Republican rejected the proposal because it was, well, laughable.
UPDATE: Right after posting this, I caught Paul Mirengoff’s post on the Obama offer; he reports that even the New York Times recognizes that this offer isn’t balanced. So, maybe, now that that pesky election is over with, some in the legacy media aren’t providing Obama the cover they once did:
Times reporter Jonathan Weisman seemed taken aback by the White House’s position. He described the offer as “loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts.” As far as I can tell, however, there are no detailed spending cuts. Obama did propose some upfront cuts in programs like farm price supports but, according to Weisman, did not specify an amount or any details.