Jewish World Review April 15, 2011 / 11 Nissan, 5771
Budget Battle, Budget Prattle
By Jonah Goldberg
I cannot remember a more depressing week in
The Republicans boasted a heroic accomplishment: slashing
But the cake was made from sawdust.
Strip away the gimmicks and shine a light on the shadows, and it turns out the real cuts amounted to
It is a dismal, dreary, mope-inducing performance that makes one wonder what the point of the 2010 elections were.
If this was the best deal possible, fine. Republicans control only one house of
But as depressing as the Republicans' performance was, at least they're fighting for the right cause, their sails pointed in the right direction.
What can be said of President Obama's speech this week?
Just two months ago, Obama introduced a
Entitlements, he admits, are gobbling up the budget; they must be "on the table." But even as he puts the plates on the table with one hand, he removes them with the other, insisting his cooks can save the meal with price controls and rationing.
And if that doesn't work, 12 years and three presidential terms from now, a series of fictional "failsafes" will kick in and some magical commission will genie-blink even more fictional cuts.
Obama prefers this to the Republican approach, which would introduce market forces into health care in order to save a calcified system from collapsing under the weight of state controls. Indeed, he couldn't even acknowledge this is the intent of Republican plan, preferring instead to recycle ancient barbs and insults about conservative cruelty and class warfare.
In a speech billed as being full of specifics, it had precious few save the president's passionate desire to raise taxes on "the wealthy." Rhetorically, Obama defines the "rich" as millionaires like himself or billionaires like Warren Buffet. But in reality he sets his sights considerably lower: households (and small businesses) that make more than
As for shared sacrifice, it is hard to find any in his proposal. Six out of 10 U.S. households receive more from the government than they pay in taxes. If "shared sacrifice" is the standing order of the day, where is theirs? The president suggests that repealing Bush's tax cuts will save the day. But the vast bulk of those cuts go to people making less than
The only good news to come from all of this is that the battle is now joined. The president has staked his banner in the soil of reactionary liberalism. Good. By setting his fortifications so far to the left of the middle ground, he gives the forces of reform room to advance far.
The rank and file are ready for battle, with the tea parties at the forefront. The only question is whether the
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