Mark Halperin titles his post with this video “Seriously,” which may refer either to Barack Obama’s suggestion that Democrats have a more serious approach to fiscal responsibility, or … that Obama could make that argument with a straight face. Obama demanded $787 billion in stimulus spending that utterly failed to arrest unemployment, and his party has increased annual federal spending by 38% in just three budget cycles since taking control of Congress — which, by the way, included a Senator named Barack Obama for the first two of those cycles. In this cycle, his party has a 77-seat majority in the House and an 18-seat majority in the Senate, and they haven’t even produced a budget resolution. Who’s serious about fiscal responsibility again?
What I’m seeing out of the Republican leadership over the last several years has been a set of policies that are just irresponsible. And we saw in their ‘Pledge to America’ a similar set of irresponsible policies. They say they want to balance the budget. They proposed $4 trillion of tax cuts and $16 billion in spending cuts, and then they say we are going to somehow magically balance the budget. That’s not a serious approach. So the question for voters over the next five weeks is, who is putting forward policies that have a chance to move our country forward so that our schools have improved, so that we have a world class infrastructure, so that we’re serious about helping small business, we’re serious about getting a handle on our spending and who’s just engaging in rhetoric. And I think that if that debate is taking place over the next 5 weeks, we are going to do just fine.
Actually, John Boehner proposed a rollback in non-defense discretionary funding to FY2008 levels, which involves rolling back a lot more than $16 billion in spending. That may not go far enough, but it’s much farther than Obama admits. Furthermore, Republicans have not proposed $4 trillion in tax cuts; they have opposed $4 trillion in tax hikes that will take place absent Congressional action, which Obama’s party refused to take before the election. Obama himself declared himself opposed to most of those tax hikes by backing an extension of the existing middle-class tax rates. The only way Obama can call an extension of existing tax rates a “cut” is if he believes that the federal government has an entitlement to that money.
If that’s the debate that Obama wants, Republicans will be happy to give it to him.