Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

You didn’t think the Obama team was really going to find $2 trillion in budget cuts, did you? Nope: “[A] senior administration official acknowledged yesterday that the budget does not contain $2 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. Instead, the figure represents Obama’s total efforts at deficit reduction, including tax hikes on families making over $250,000 a year. It also includes hundreds of billions of dollars ‘saved’ by not continuing to spend $170 billion a year in Iraq.” And the figures for healthcare spending? Oh, that’s “to be determined.”

More polling evidence that they are freaking us out. Junky stimulus, huge government spending, tax hikes, and incompetency at the Treasury Department isn’t inspiring confidence. Go figure.

What’s a beleaguered financial executive to do? Staff up on lobbyists, of course. It is only logical to protect themselves before more harm is done.

Meanwhile people have had it with the auto companies: “Just one-fourth of Americans think the government should continue lending money to Detroit automakers, according to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll, even though the manufacturers say they’ll go out of business without federal help. That’s a huge, and fast, change of heart. In December, before the government approved emergency auto loans, the poll found that 61% favored some kind of government help.”

Wait till they find out that the auto companies have brought their friends along to the beg-a-thon.

More on Chas Freeman. “The problem for Freeman, should his appointment eventuate, is that his writings have tended less toward analysis and more toward advocacy — and not simply of a line of thought that defends Arab interests but that demonizes Israel and its advocates.”

Lisa Schiffren nails the Obama rhetorical trickery: “Obama cleverly acknowledged some criticisms of his policies. That’s a smart device that suggests the speaker has considered objections and rationally rejected them. But Obama simply dismissed the problems: Yes, it’s bad to leave the kids huge deficits — but we must ‘invest’ in government programs for their future. No mortgage bailouts for speculators or overbuyers — just the others. I’m spending world-historic amounts of money we don’t have, ‘not because I believe in bigger government — I don’t.’ I’m creating or saving 3 million jobs with public projects — but the jobs will be in the private sector.”

Maybe Bobby Jindal should have responded with an interview last night.

The New York Times is more honest than Obama: “To the extent that Mr. Obama has talked about raising taxes, he has focused on households that make at least $250,000 a year.  . .But the problem can’t be solved just by taxing the rich. That top 1 percent pays only about one-quarter of federal taxes. Once the recession ends, taxes on the not-so-rich will need to rise, too.”

The Wall Street Journal agrees: “Even the most basic inspection of the IRS income tax statistics shows that raising taxes on the salaries, dividends and capital gains of those making more than $250,000 can’t possibly raise enough revenue to fund Mr. Obama’s new spending ambitions. . . The bottom line is that Mr. Obama is selling the country on a 2% illusion. Unwinding the U.S. commitment in Iraq and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire can’t possibly pay for his agenda. Taxes on the not-so-rich will need to rise as well.”

Arlen Spector, take note: 81% of Pennsylvania primary voters oppose card check. And don’t bank on the state party to back you. (h/t Mark Hemmingway)

$318B in new taxes and a $634B healthcare plan. We’re going to see just how huge a debt we can run up and just how anemic an economic recovery we can have, I suppose. Taxing people in a recession? Sounds rather anti-stimulative.

More fodder for the “they’re winging it” theory on the the Obama administration.

Karl Rove observes: “Everyone resorts to straw men occasionally, but Mr. Obama’s persistent use of the device is troubling. Continually characterizing those who disagree with you in a fundamentally dishonest way can be the sign of a person who lacks confidence in the merits of his ideas.” The media normally keeps this sort of thing in check but there are only so many questions a day Jake Tapper can ask. The remedy is for Republicans to call the president on these.

The next time an executive is dragged before a Congressional hearing to explain a jet trip or golf tournament, he should keep this in mind.