Taking everything in Obama’s original proposal at face value, adding up all of the deficit-reducing components and subtracting the new stimulus spending, translates into about $3.5 trillion in deficit reduction excluding debt service savings and $4 trillion including everything. Of that, $2.4 trillion was enacted if you don’t include debt service savings and about $2.8 trillion was enacted if you do. Either way, it means roughly 70 percent of Obama’s deficit-cutting agenda has already become law. This leaves him with several problems going forward.
The CBO announced today that after the fiscal cliff deal, deficits would range from $6.9 trillion to $9.2 trillion over the next decade, depending on the baseline assumptions. Though we don’t have updated numbers yet, the CBO’s broader budget forecast will undoubtedly continue to warn about the nation’s long-term debt trajectory.
So what is Obama going to do when he reveals his budget next month? What is his position going into budget showdowns over the course of his second term? There’s still room for him to push for more taxes, but he has conceded setting the threshold for increased income taxes at $400,000 instead of $250,000. If he wants to avoid new tax increases on 98-99 percent of households, and has already raised $617 billion, there’s an upper limit to how much additional revenue he could propose. Maybe he can come up with another few hundred billion, or approach $800 billion, by getting rid of various deductions and loopholes in the tax code. But there isn’t much room beyond that.