In his State of the Union (SOTU) address, President Obama promised a great many initiatives to his supporters. Most of them, of course, involved a larger, more involved federal government.
For those concerned about the fiscal crisis America is facing, ABC’s George Will caught possibly the three most important aspects of the speech:
First, Will caught the discrepancy between the President’s promise that his new programs would not add “a single dime” to America’s deficits… and his expansive new spending plans. As Tea Party Patriots also noted, this means the President wants more tax increases in the near future.
Second, the President said about Medicare that “Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep — but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.” Americans and our elected officials in Washington have known for decades that Medicare and Social Security have made promises that the federal government can’t keep. For those who have paid into both programs for decades, this is simply fiscal reality. Therefore, as Will notes, the President’s unwillingness to change Medicare for older Americans throws cold water on any so-called “grand bargain” with Republicans with regards to reforming the long-term drivers of our national debt.
Finally, Will pointed out how the President’s rhetoric on sequestration is exaggerative, to say the least. In particular, this part:
In 2011, Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach our deficit goal, about a trillion dollars’ worth of budget cuts would automatically go into effect this year. These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness. They’d devastate priorities like education, and energy, and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Cutting $1.2 trillion out of an expected $44 trillion over a decade is not harsh. They would not devastate. They would merely slow the growth of spending in many areas of the federal budget.
One more point to add to Will’s solid analysis: With regards to sequestration, the “cuts” are not sudden. Congress and the President had over a year to outline exactly where the 2.9% spending reduction would happen. Only in Washington is a year of preparation “sudden.”