It seems many on the left, like Paul Krugman, are quite happy with President Obama’s deficit speech. I will even admit to it being much better than what I feared, but that is only because some truly terrible trial balloons managed to set expectations incredibly low to begin with.
The important point of the speech for me, though, is that the president declared that a “balanced approach” to reducing the deficit still relies mostly on spending cuts, with two dollars in cuts for every dollar in new revenue.
Today, I’m proposing a more balanced approach to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over twelve years. It’s an approach that borrows from the recommendations of the bipartisan Fiscal Commission I appointed last year, and builds on the roughly $1 trillion in deficit reduction I already proposed in my 2012 budget. It’s an approach that puts every kind of spending on the table, but one that protects the middle-class, our promise to seniors, and our investments in the future.
This is my approach to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next twelve years. It’s an approach that achieves about $2 trillion in spending cuts across the budget. It will lower our interest payments on the debt by $1 trillion. It calls for tax reform to cut about $1 trillion in spending from the tax code. And it achieves these goals while protecting the middle class, our commitment to seniors, and our investments in the future.
Rhetorically, the de facto leader of the Democratic party is beginning with his goalpost already in conservative territory. Given how past negotiations have gone between President Obama and the Republican leaders, this isn’t a reassuring opening offer.
Is it really too much to expect that a Democratic president would at least start with the talking point that half-way or a “balanced approach” should by definition should be equal parts spending cuts and tax increases?