By Rich Lowry
The Hendricks County Flyer
Mon Jan 07, 2013, 03:36 PM EST
The budget crisis is over. Long live the budget crisis.
Now that the fiscal cliff has been resolved, we're on to the fight over raising the debt ceiling. President Barack Obama wants no part of it. Huffing and stomping his feet immediately after Congress passed his tax increases to avoid the cliff, he insisted that there is no way he'll negotiate over the debt ceiling. That would be so inappropriate.
Cue the hostage-taking analogies, the talk of extremism, the lamentations over a broken Washington. But why is the president outraged that someone would use the leverage of an impending event that everyone wants to avoid and that would damage the economy to his negotiating advantage? It's precisely how he won on the cliff.
No one called him a hostage taker when he didn't immediately accept the House Republican extension of all the Bush tax cuts, and instead insisted on forcing a choice between higher tax rates on the wealthy or going off the cliff.
He got his way. Not because Republicans wanted to raise taxes. But because taxes would go up for everyone on Jan. 1, and very few people (and no Republicans) wanted that to happen. Obama used every ounce of his leverage to raise taxes on as many people as he could - and succeeded. Congratulations.
Now that the leverage may work the other way, Obama wants an end to all this crazy talk of negotiating things and compromising.
"I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they've already racked up," the president bristled.
He has apparently been an innocent bystander while the national debt increased by 60 percent since he took office. It's just his rotten luck to have to preside over such a profligate country.
We've hit the debt limit of $16.4 trillion, and it will need to be extended in a couple of months. When $16.4 trillion in debt isn't enough, you've clearly got a problem. The president always says that we need a "balanced approach" to address it. In the cliff deal, he got one part of the balance.
He increased income-tax rates on the oft-invoked "millionaires and billionaires," and even all the way down to $400,000-aires. In fact, thanks to the expiration of the payroll tax cut, the deal raised taxes on 77 percent of Americans, according to the Tax Policy Center. Finally, people making $40,000 a year will pay their "fair share"! The Tax Policy Center calculates that about half the additional revenue from the deal over the next year will come from households making less than $200,000.
So the tax increases - both on the rich and on the middle class - have been gloriously written into law. What about the spending cuts that the president has said in the past should be a disproportionate share of any budget solution? He's not the least bit interested in those, except as a rhetorical device. Which is why Republicans are always in the position of trying to force him to accept some sort of spending discipline.
In a better, more rational world, the debt limit wouldn't be a tool of budgetary policy. But it is one of the few must-pass pieces of legislation that Republicans can use to force spending cuts, and it obviously relates directly to our budget problem. If the president doesn't want the debate over it to go nerve-wrackingly down to the wire, he can set out a serious offer, now.
Of course, he's doing the opposite. His refusal to negotiate isn't sustainable, but he'll spend precious time trying to sustain it. He'll finally agree to talk, and then get Republicans to back off whatever their maximal position is - because Republicans will again fear being blamed if there's no agreement. Another Band-Aid will be applied to the debt, until next time.
In the Age of Obama, the new budget crisis always follows the last.
(c) 2012 by King Features Syndicate
I hate dog movies. In dog movies, the good, loyal, lovable dog always dies at the end and I end up sitting there in the dark with big tears streaming down my cheeks.
May 21, 2013
Mr. President, the buck stops with you.
President Truman set that standard, with these very words posted on a sign on his Oval Office desk.
But now, with over a thousand days left in this second Obama administration, we find a Nixonian stench emerging from the “W. House.”
Rarely has the White House briefing room so resembled the main ballroom at a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference.
I’ve not kept it a secret that I find people who dress their dogs in clothes to be, to put it nicely, somewhat more than just eccentric. And many friendly, helpful readers out there have not kept it a secret that they really wish I would not express my views about dogs dressed as humans.
May 17, 2013
Distrust of government secrecy has been elevated to an exceptional level with the disclosure the Justice Department covertly examined two months of Associated Press phone records to determine who leaked details to the AP about a foiled terrorist plot.
The federal government recently announced new regulations for buying fast food.
It sounds like the plot from a dystopian libertarian novel. The word “patriot” and the phrase “educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights” triggered heightened scrutiny from the most intrusive agency in the federal government.
The action at the bird feeder has been spectacular lately: Cardinals, finches, songbirds in impressive variety crowding around all day long in search of sustenance. It is truly gratifying …
For my neighbor.
That’s what it’s like at his feeder.
May 14, 2013
On April 27, Dr. Jeff Butts demonstrated a rare form of servant leadership as he participated in the Go Love Indy westside service project.
May 13, 2013
Everyone presumes that Sen. Chuck Schumer, the media-hungry Democrat from New York, wants to be the next Senate majority leader. His performance in the negotiations over the Gang of Eight immigration plan should bolster his case for an eventual promotion.
Part I: Are We Prepared? | Part II: Disaster Dollars Part III: Lessons Learned | Part IV: Warning Signs Part V: The Big One
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