January 1, 2013

ALL NEGOTIATIONS ARE OVER WHEN THEY BEGIN:

Obama's Leadership Failure (Robert Samuelson, January 1, 2013, Washington Post)

Whatever one thinks about raising taxes at the top (and I have no objection to it as part of comprehensive budget package), it's not the crux of the problem. The crux of our problem -- the problem being the bipartisan and untenable promises made to most Americans of both high government benefits and low taxes -- arises from an aging population and high health costs, which cause rapid increases in spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Let me repeat some statistics I've often cited. In 2012, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid accounted for 44 percent of non-interest federal spending. As for taxes, the richest 5 percent paid almost 40 percent of federal taxes in 2009 (and within that, the richest 1 percent paid 22 percent of taxes).

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office puts it this way:

"With the population aging and health care costs per person likely to keep growing faster than the economy [gross domestic product], the United States cannot sustain the federal spending programs that are now in place with the federal taxes (as a share of GDP) that it has been accustomed to paying."

Until Obama conspicuously and consistently acknowledges these realities in straightforward and unmistakable language -- something he hasn't done and shows no signs of doing -- he cannot be said to be dealing honestly with the budget or with the American people. The main reason that we keep having these destructive and inconclusive budget confrontations is not simply that many Republicans have been intransigent on taxes. The larger cause is that Obama refuses to concede that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are driving future spending and deficits. So when Republicans make concessions on taxes (as they have), they get little in return. Naturally, this poisons the negotiating climate.

The only potential outcome of the McConnell negotiations was tax cuts without spending cuts.  The GOP needs to just walk away until the President asks to come to the table. Posted by at January 1, 2013 10:55 AM
  
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