But that’s not going to happen.
The federal government has already shown that it can’t multi-task and combine thoughtful spending cuts with serious tax reform.
Thus Mr. Obama’s latest proposal to hike taxes on people who earn more than $250,000 is pure political theater, designed to help the president win votes in November in key swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.
That part isn’t hard to understand.
After the latest gloomy report on job creation, the president had to pull something out of his hat to show that he’s on top of things. So he relied on a tactic that’s an oldie but a goodie: Class warfare. Make fat cats the issue. Not the lack of new jobs.
The president’s tax proposal is dead on arrival in Congress. The Republican-controlled House isn’t going to go along with it. Neither are some Democrats.
In the end, expect Congress and the president to find a way to extend the Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire for everyone at the end of the year. No politician who wants to keep his or her seat is going to sit back and let taxes go up for every American in 2013. That’s political suicide.
As far as a serious proposal to cut the budget deficit, Mr. Obama’s latest plan falls way short. Just do the math.
The White House estimates that the president’s tax hike would generate an additional $150 billion. The 2012 federal budget deficit is about $1.3 trillion. Unless Washington reins in spending and eliminates tax loopholes and other giveaways, ganging up on wealthier Americans doesn’t work. There aren’t enough rich people to soak.
It’s disappointing that such an important debate has deteriorated to this level.
America’s finances are in deep trouble. The economy is wobbly. Too many Americans are out of work.
Most voters want serious talk about taxes and spending. They don’t want Mr. Obama peddling snake oil cures, claiming that the way to prosperity is to make Americans turn over more of their earnings to the government. Likewise, they aren’t exactly warming up to Republican Mitt Romney either. His lack of specifics is troublesome.
Meanwhile, the clock is running out on another tax break that’s due to expire on Dec. 31, 2012. That’s the 2-percent cut on FICA taxes. No one is talking about how to extend this break. They should.
Yes, tax reform is complicated. Cutting spending can be painful. But the best way to have a serious conversation is to get serious. Not talk in platitudes.