Or, I guess, we could borrow another $500 billion, with offsetting spending cuts to come in, uh, “the out years.”
Knowing the GOP’s steadfast opposition to tax increases, why would The One shove an allegedly bipartisan-minded jobs plan at them that’s paid for entirely with new revenue? Take three guesses, and the first two don’t count. Yuval Levin:
The White House’s proposed means of paying for the “jobs bill” the president called on Congress to adopt last week really sheds light on the cynicism and confusion at the heart of the president’s new campaign theme. In order to be able to insist that he is proposing ideas but Republicans are unwilling to act, the president will apparently propose exactly the same set of massive tax increases that even Democrats in a Democratically-controlled Congress were unwilling to consider in the midst of the Obamacare debate in 2009. Obviously, having proven unable to persuade his own party to raise those taxes by that much during his prime, the president will be unable to persuade Republicans to do so now. But since evidently his re-election strategy will involve arguing that he is incapable of persuading congress to act, the Republicans’ rejection of massive tax hikes should help him make his case.
Via Andrew Stiles, here’s a Times story from April 2009 about the Democratic Congress’s verrrry lukewarm reception at the time for a similar Obama proposal that would have funded ObamaCare by eliminating $318 billion in certain itemized deductions for wealthy taxpayers. Today’s proposal would fund the new jobs plan with $400 billion via the same sort of deduction rollbacks for the affluent, including the one for charitable contributions. (They won’t go into effect until 2013 lest the new taxes slow any new recovery.) Why would Obama push a revenue plan that his own party ran away from? It makes zero sense if his top priority is to get a bill passed ASAP since it guarantees yet another protracted partisan war over the merits of tax hikes without so much as a whiff of new spending cuts to sweeten the proposal. But it makes perfect sense if his top priority is to improve his chances at re-election by making the GOP choke on raising taxes on the rich, an issue on which the public consistently sides with Obama in polling.
At first blush it may seem irrational that O would play hardball on a new stimulus, not merely because the economy desperately needs help but because his own election fortunes are tied to recovery. But if you assume that the economy won’t recover by Election Day — and the White House does assume that at this point, remember — then the politically shrewd move is to do triage by passing the buck as much as possible. Hence today’s plan, as presented below by Obama budget guru Jack Lew: House Republicans should go ahead and add half a trillion dollars in new revenue by endorsing a bill to which they’re ideologically opposed, and then, if the Super Committee’s up to it, they can start thinking about some spending cuts or whatever. The One checked the box by offering a bill and, much to the delight of his base, he’s not trying to cut anything this time, so his work here is done. On to the campaign.