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Jewish World Review
March 5, 2009
/ 9 Adar 5769
Plan Obama: Pass the Check
Debra J. Saunders
Twenty-five years after 1984, Doublespeak lives. Last week, President
Obama released "A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise"
a 10-year, $3.55 trillion spending plan that represented anything but
fiscal maturity. The plan lamented the World Before Obama as "an era of
profound irresponsibility" with deficit spending and unfunded tax
cuts. Then it offered more deficit spending and unfunded tax cuts.
Oh yes, and after years of Democrats trashing President George W. Bush
for cutting taxes while America is at war, the New Responsibility
Democrat wants his proposed tax cut for 95 percent of working families
while America is at war in Iraq and Afghanistan to be permanent.
It's not that cutting taxes in itself is bad, but it is hardly
responsible to tell Americans that they can benefit from more than $1
trillion in new government spending (when you add his stimulus and
recent budgets) and the best part is, only other people will pay for
Last year, Tax Foundation President Scott A. Hodge estimated that under
current law, 47 million federal tax filers or 33 percent of filing
households would owe zero on their federal income taxes in 2009.
Under Plan Obama, he calculated, 63 million filers or 44 percent
would pay zero in federal income taxes although, they would
contribute to Social Security and may pay sales tax. (Republican John
McCain's plan was not substantially different: Hodge estimated that
under Plan McCain, 43 percent of filers would pay no income tax.)
The 44 percent estimate did not include the 15 million individuals and
families that simply did not file taxes in 2006. Add them with the
zero-income tax filers and the ratio of American households paying no
federal income taxes is about half.
Without taking a position, the Tax Foundation's Matt Moon noted that
there are people who wonder if it is a problem in a democracy to have "a
swath (of voters) that demands more services and a swath that pays for
Count me among that group. But in Obamaland, all bounty is free. Take
the 10-year, $630 billion Obama health plan which aims at universal
access to health care for all Americans with, again, only the rich
explicitly paying. Obama plans to fund half his package with "savings"
(read: spending cuts), which magically only promote efficiency or
improve the quality of care. Then Obama funds the other half by capping
itemized tax deductions for families earning more than $250,000 and
that's on top of a proposed income tax hike for those families.
Be it noted, all income groups might have to contribute at some point
details to follow: Page 27 of the O-plan observes that "others have
proposed different ideas to finance expanded health coverage," including
a value-added tax. But there are no specifics on a VAT, only a quick nod
to the fact that the $630 billion that Plan Obama sets aside for health
care reform "is not sufficient to fully fund comprehensive reform."
The question that has baffled me: If President Obama wanted to stimulate
the economy and to make health care available to all Americans, why
didn't he, in concert with efforts to stabilize credit markets, make
universal health care the lynchpin of his stimulus package? In one
measure, Obama could have removed an obstacle to some families'
financial stability, created a chain of community health clinics, and
presented job and educational opportunities for would-be health care
workers. And Republicans would have had a much harder time voting
Instead, Obama opted for a pork-rich $787 billion monster with
something for everyone, and only a small group asked to bankroll the
free-for-all. The New Era of Responsibility has a new motto: The
administration will talk about the need to live within one's means, and
will continue to pass the check.
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