Eleven days before the economic End of Days (and zero days before the actual one, judging by the heat), President Obama took to the pages of USA Today to make his case for “going big” on a debt ceiling deal – and for big cuts in spending:
…I’ve also said that I’m willing to cut historic amounts of spending in order to reduce our long-term deficits. I’m willing to cut spending on domestic programs to the lowest level in half a century. I’m willing to cut defense spending by hundreds of billions of dollars. I’m willing to take on the rising costs of health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, so we can meet our obligations to an aging population.
Some of these cuts would eliminate wasteful spending, weapons we don’t need, or fraud and abuse in our health care system. Still, some of the cuts would target worthwhile programs that do a lot of good for our country. They’re cuts that some people in my own party aren’t too happy about, and frankly, I wouldn’t make them if we didn’t have so much debt.
I think people in the President’s Democratic Party, both in Washington and elsewhere, are committed to cutting the deficit – they’d just like to do so by attacking its central contributor, the Bush tax cuts extended last year for the sake of unemployment benefits Republicans were holding hostage. And the President does get around to talking about ending tax breaks for hedge fund managers before charging seniors more for Medicare. He calls for “fundamental tax reform.” As Ezra Klein writes today, it’s a fine line between a tax break and an expense.