Now that the President has released his master plan for reducing the deficit in the next twelve years, it’s time to see what Congress, activists and potential presidential candidates think of the proposal.
Of course, it’s a surprise to no one that the Congressional Republicans weren’t big fans. The GOP had already announced that rescinding the Bush tax cuts for millionaires was not on the table, and with that being a key point in Obama’s plan to reduce the deficit, it becomes difficult to see where a compromise can be made.
Republican reaction after the speech almost made it seem as if they were listening to a different president than everyone else, with most complaints revolving around Obama either not offering specifics or not cutting enough spending. The reaction was to continue to paint the unsustainable tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans as “job-crushing tax increases” without noting that the employment picture in the U.S. has basically collapsed ever since these cuts were enacted.
Democrats, meanwhile, are embracing the “reverse Robin Hood” verbage of Vermont’s Bernie Saunders, and applauding Obama’s pledge to reduce the deficit without dismantaling the social safety net for the most vulnerable of Americans.
The Washington Post has an excellent roundup of congressional reactions on their site.
Meanwhile, presidential contender Tim Pawlenty calls Obama’s plan “wholly unacceptable:” “Today’s speech was nothing more than window dressing. President Obama’s lack of seriousness on deficit reduction is crystal clear when you look at the budget deal he insisted on to avoid a government shutdown. The more we learn about the budget deal the worse it looks.”
Mitt Romney also found the plan lacking. Via The Hill: “Instead of supporting spending cuts that lead to real deficit reduction and true reform of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, the President dug deep into his liberal playbook for ‘solutions’ highlighted by higher taxes,” he said. “With over 20 million people who are unemployed or who have stopped looking for work, the last thing we should be doing is raising taxes on job-creators, entrepreneurs, and small-business owners across America.”
Progressive Change Campaign Committee had been highly active prior to Obama’s speech, rallying supporters of the President to promise to refuse him donations if he agrees to any cuts that would affect the social safety net that keeps so many Americans afloat. Did the President come through? The group released the following statement after the speech:
“Americans will be very glad to hear that the President supports raising taxes on the rich. But he needs to take Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare benefit cuts completely off the table. The overwhelming majority of Americans oppose cuts to these programs, but support taxing the rich, ending corporate welfare, and reducing military spending. That, plus investment in jobs, should be the Democratic plan.”
Finally, the Republicans have had their shot at talking about deficit reduction, and the President has unveiled his plans. So where is the real progressive agenda? The Congressional Progressive Caucus has put out their own plan that would balance the budget by 2014, and even create a surplus by 2021. Primary plan specifics are to let all Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2012, although marriage, children, education reliefs and credits would still be continued, immediately end the tax cuts for millionaires, add top tax rates of between 45 and 49 percent for the absolute highest of earners, tax capital gains and create a progressive estate tax. Social Security would be buffered by a allowing 90 percent of all earnings to be taxed, and Medicaid and Medicare would be made stronger with a public option health care plan for all Americans. Also helping to balance the budget would be a drastic reduction to defense spending. You can read all of the deficit reduction details here.
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