Margaret Thatcher once famously observed that sometimes you run out of other’s people’s money.
Folks, we’ve just about run out.
Many believe that the federal debt has reached such epic proportions that finding a way to fix it is now a matter of survival for the United States. Taxing the very rich into oblivion might make the envious feel better. But it won’t remedy our financial plight. Even they don’t have enough money now!
Robert Samuelson has a chilling column today in which he notes that most of the actions that must be taken to secure our future are politically unpopular. We should be talking about all these measures, but we aren’t. Samuelson knows why-President Obama is AWOL:
We aren’t having this debate, and President Obama is mainly to blame. His recent budget speech at George Washington University was a telling model of evasion, contradiction and deception. He warned that by 2025 present tax levels would suffice only to pay for “Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the interest we owe on our debt. … Every other national priority — education, transportation, even our national security — will (be paid) with borrowed money.” He noted that businesses may not invest in a country that seems “unable to balance its books.”
Fine. But Obama has no plan to balance the budget — ever. He asserted “every kind of spending (is) on the table.” But every kind of spending is not on the table. He virtually ruled out cutting Social Security, the government’s biggest program (2011 spending: $727 billion). For example, Social Security is excluded from a proposed “trigger” that would automatically reduce spending and raise taxes if certain deficit targets weren’t met. He also put Medicare (2011 spending: $572 billion) largely off-limits.
The president keeps promoting an “adult conversation” about the budget, but that can’t happen if the First Adult doesn’t play his part….
I think one of the reasons that the president is AWOL is that he cares more about changing the country than governing it. Samuelson noted that two of the matters that must be decided if we are to move forward: how big a government do we want? Who gets subsidies? I think that the president genuinely believes in the virtue of a bigger government with more citizens subsidized. Of course, in the current climate of opinion, he can’t quite say that. The upshot is vagueness.