A week from now, a dramatic new federal policy is set to go into effect that threatens U.S. national security, thousands of jobs and more. In a bit of irony, President Obama stood Tuesday with first responders who could lose their jobs if the policy goes into effect. Most Americans are just hearing about this Washington creation for the first time: the sequester. What they might not realize from Mr. Obama’s statements is that it is a product of the president’s own failed leadership.
The sequester is a wave of deep spending cuts scheduled to hit on March 1. Unless Congress acts, $85 billion in across-the-board cuts will occur this year, with another $1.1 trillion coming over the next decade. There is nothing wrong with cutting spending that much—we should be cutting even more—but the sequester is an ugly and dangerous way to do it.
Cry me a river. It’s a drop in the bucket. Boehner has a point that entitlement spending is not touched by the sequester. So call for entitlements to be cut too. But stop talking about how a relatively piddling set of budget cuts is so awful and dangerous. When you tighten the belt, you feel the squeeze, son.
Boehner does have one good point:
The president got his higher taxes—$600 billion from higher earners, with no spending cuts—at the end of 2012. He also got higher taxes via ObamaCare. Meanwhile, no one should be talking about raising taxes when the government is still paying people to play videogames, giving folks free cellphones, and buying $47,000 cigarette-smoking machines.
The GOP keeps allowing this charlatan Obama to talk about “balance” when 1) they already gave him the tax part of the “balance” and 2) the problem is spending, not taxes. As I wrote last month:
Can’t we just tax the rich? No, for two reasons.
First, even confiscating all millionaires’ taxable income would not close the gap. It’s difficult to find recent statistics for these numbers, but in posts I wrote in April 2011 I quoted people who had examined IRS statistics and found that in 2008, “Taxable income over $100,000 was $1,582 billion, over $200,000 was $1,185 billion, over $500,000 was $820 billion, over $1 million was $616 billion, over $2 million was $460 billion, over $5 million was $302 billion, and over $10 million was $212 billion.” To get that $1.3 trillion you can’t close the gap by taxing rich people. You could confiscate all the income of people with taxable income over $1 million and it would not close the gap by half.
But there’s another problem: it wouldn’t work that well anyway. As I illustrated yesterday, we have had top marginal rates as high as 91% and as low as 28%, and we still get about 18% of GDP in revenues every year, regardless. Extremely rich people change their behavior when you start to confiscate all their money.
We haven’t even addressed paying off almost $17 trillion in debt.
It’s as if you had a large mountain of sand and a small bucket of dirt to haul away, and when you said we should start getting on moving that sand, some yutz starts insisting on a balanced approach: one teaspoon of dirt to be removed for each teaspoon of sand.
Yet Obama continues to play the game of demanding more taxes, more taxes, more taxes, as if that will fix everything. Sweetness and Light notes that Obama vowed in 2011 to veto any effort to undo the sequester — unless Republicans raised taxes on the rich. Which they did, recently. Which they need to keep reminding the public.
We already agreed to move the dirt. Now let’s get to work on the real problem. And Boehner, stop treating the sequester as if it’s this awful and unthinkable set of cuts. You’re part of the problem.