The deficit reduction plan President Obama vaguely outlined yesterday lacks basic credibility. The problem isn’t that the math doesn’t add up–it is at least a dramatic improvement over Republican Paul Ryan’s plan, which literally defies logic and basic math. This issue is that many of the reductions President Obama promised yesterday come from actions that he has been promising for years, yet when the opportunity came up to fulfill them, he actively violated his word.
In the speech, Obama again promised huge deficit reductions from both letting the Bush tax cuts expire for those making over $250,000, and fixing Medicare Part D by allowing Medicare to directly negotiate for lower drug prices. We are supposed to believe he will fight for these despite having laid down on both before.
Bush tax cuts for the rich
At no time during the past two years did Obama use his large Democratic majorities in Congress to push through a bill ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Finally, when all the tax cuts were set to expire, instead of holding the line, he claimed he had no other option but to make a deal to extend them all. Obama has made no indications why the next fight about the Bush tax cuts won’t end in an identical broken promise.
Direct Medicare drug price negotiations
Passing direct Medicare drug price negotiation was a huge campaign point for Democrats in 2006 and for Obama in 2008. Yet, during the health care reform fight, which would have been the prefect time to pass it, the provision disappeared.
In fact, Obama made a secret deal with the drug companies in which he promised to actively fight against allowing this core campaign promise from becoming law. The administration’s diligent efforts to kill drug re-importation, another promise broken by the secret deal, shows how open Obama was to violating his campaign promises to keep PhRMA happy.
To quote another president: “Fool me once, shame on–shame on you. Fool me–you can’t get fooled again.”
It just isn’t credible to believe that Obama’s new promises about these two issues. Not after he previously made them repeatedly, only to break his word when he had the chance to fulfill them.