When it comes to the ongoing fiscal talks, Republicans aren’t just opposed to President Obama’s plan to tax income above $250,000 at a slightly higher rate. The GOP, which is yet to produce its own plan, also complains about spending cuts.
“The White House keeps saying it wants a ‘balanced approach’ but this offer is completely unbalanced and unrealistic,” a Capitol Hill Republican said yesterday. “It calls for $1.6 trillion in tax hikes – all of that upfront – in exchange for only $400 billion in spending cuts that come later.”
Let’s put aside, for now, the irony of hearing Republicans talking about “balanced” debt-reduction plans. Instead, the importance of complaints like these is that they overlook everything that happened a year ago. Jonathan Cohn had a good piece on this.
…As part of the 2011 Budget Control Act, Obama agreed to spending reductions of about $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. If you count the interest, the savings is actually $1.7 trillion. Boehner should have no problem remembering the details of that deal: As Greg Sargent points out, Boehner at the time actually gloated about the fact that the deal was “all spending cuts.”
And now, with this latest offer, Obama is proposing yet more spending reductions, to the tune of several hundred billion dollars. Add it up and it’s more than $2 trillion in spending cuts Obama has either signed into law or is endorsing now. That’s obviously greater than the $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue he’s seeking. (And that doesn’t even take into account automatic cuts from the 2011 budget sequester, which Obama has proposed to defer, or savings from ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.)
I can understand the temptation to block 2011 from memory, but what transpired is clearly relevant to the current debate. Obama wanted a “balanced” approach last year – some cuts, some new revenue – but didn’t get it. Instead, faced with the prospect of Republicans crashing the economy on purpose, the president accepted a deal with a whole lot of spending cuts.
How much new tax revenue came as the result of last year’s deal? Zero. The entire package came in the form of spending reductions and savings.
With this in mind, Republican complaints ring hollow. The president’s plan is quite balanced when considered in context – it’s a $4 trillion debt-reduction plan, most of which comes from spending cuts, which is the kind of deal the right says it wants. Given all the spending cuts Obama has already agreed to, it’s arguably quite gracious of him to offer hundreds of billions of additional cuts now.