Just so we're clear, we all understand these tax hikes would accomplish zilch, right?

And I quote:

But as I’ve said before, we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. If we’re serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue. And that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes. … That’s how we can reduce the deficit while still making the investments we need to build a strong middle class and a strong economy. …

Now, already, I’ve put forward a detailed plan that allows us to make these investments while reducing our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. I want to be clear: I’m not wedded to every detail of my plan. I’m open to compromise. I’m open to new ideas. I’m committed to solving our fiscal challenges.

But I refuse to accept any approach that isn’t balanced. I am not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me making over $250,000 aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes.

Yes, by all means, let’s be serious — and acknowledge that tax hikes on the wealthiest among us is not going to accomplish anything even remotely meaningful in terms of long-term deficit reduction. Talking about how expensive the two wars have been and ginning up populist resentments (Obama likes to add the “rich people like me” bit to fend off claims of class-warmongering, but the “fairness” implication is of course still there) while consistently failing to produce any concrete plans except on how the government can spend more money, is not a solution. The hit on economic growth that will come at the cost of steepening our already graduated income tax is a much less effective way of increasing revenue than the lowered taxes that would allow the economy to grow at a more robust rate and bring more people into the middle and upper tax brackets (and with the president’s proposed arrangements, we can count on more of the same economic stagnation that only adds people to the food stamp/unemployment benefits/etcetera welfare rolls and deepens our fiscal woe).

As Conn Carroll aptly reminds us, sure, the Congressional Budget Office has projected that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the wealthy could bring in as much as $824 billion over ten years (which, given that it’s from the CBO, I’d wager is a somewhat rosy estimate). But when you put that in the context of, oh yeah, Obama’s been running up trillion-dollar deficits every year of his presidency, you can see what a hugely insurmountable problem this is.

I merely highlight this all again because this is what the lame-duck Congress that reconvened today has already started fighting about. President Obama can certainly talk a good game about being open to entitlement reform and compromise, rabble rabble rabble, but his declaration that “we cannot cut our way to prosperity” is just plain wrong. We can, and we should cut our way to prosperity — not because we want to take benefits away from people who currently need them, but because we want to create opportunities for people so that they don’t need those benefits anymore. This pattern of insanely frivolous government spending, as if the Obama administration somehow knows how to spend and allocate our money better than we do in bringing about economic growth, is not the answer.

But no matter, it’s all going to be pinned on those dastardly Republicans, no matter what happens. Oof.

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