Thank God, we finally have the fiscal cliff behind us. President Obama finally got his highly-touted tax increase, the one that is supposed to make the rich pay their fair share and help reduce the budget deficit. Conservatives aren’t exactly happy about that, but we did manage to make the majority of the Bush tax cuts permanent, so that may count for something. As for the tax increases reducing the deficit, National Review Online has a well-written piece that debunks that myth, but most of us already knew how false it was.
Even though most conservatives are not happy with the deal that supposedly ended the fight over tax increases and kicked the can of sequestration and the spending cuts it will entail down the road, there could be room for a small amount of optimism. It could be argued that we are in a better negotiating position to force the hand of the liberals and get the spending cuts that we know have to be forthcoming, if the fiscal condition of the United States is to improve. That optimism is probably a bit premature, as evidenced by the remarks made by President Obama in his speech about the fiscal cliff on December 31, 2012.
(Huffington Post) If Republicans think that I will finish the job of deficit reduction, through spending cuts alone — and you hear that sometimes coming from them — sort of, after today we’re just going to try to shove only spending cuts down, you know, well — shove spending — shove spending cuts at us, that will hurt seniors, or hurt students, or hurt middle-class families without asking also equivalent sacrifice from millionaires or companies with a lot of lobbyists … if they think that’s going to be the formula for how we solve this thing, they have another thing coming.
I have watched the video of the speech and it was pretty clear to me what President Obama meant. We may believe he has little room left to negotiate, but he doesn’t seem to think that is the case. I expect him to demand more concessions from the GOP, before he even considers spending cuts that are real and substantial. He has also said he has no plans to negotiate over the debt ceiling, saying he will use his own authority – authority that does not exist – to borrow the money needed to meet the obligations we already have.
If there is one thing I have learned from watching how Obama has worked in the past four years, it is to never underestimate the lengths to which he will go to achieve his goals. If he has to create authority out of thin air, he will do so. I expect him to push hard for more tax increases on the rich, or to lower the threshold to the $200,000/$250,000 he really wants. Do not believe for a minute he is finished with his push to make the rich pay their fair share.
By doing so, Obama will make two things abundantly clear. First, he will expose himself as the class warfare warrior he really is. Second, he will show just how serious he really isn’t about the debt and the deficit. I have said it before, it’s the spending, stupid. Obama either doesn’t understand that or he just doesn’t care about reducing our debt and deficit and getting spending under control. I suspect it is probably the latter.