Tag Archives: Budget Deal

A closer look at the budget deal

Here’s a good article in the Wall Street Journal about the budget deal struck by the House, Senate and White House on the weekend.


The big picture is that the deal is a victory for the cause of smaller government, arguably the biggest since welfare reform in 1996. Most bipartisan budget deals trade tax increases that are immediate for spending cuts that turn out to be fictional. This one includes no immediate tax increases, despite President Obama’s demand as recently as last Monday. The immediate spending cuts are real, if smaller than we’d prefer, and the longer-term cuts could be real if Republicans hold Congress and continue to enforce the deal’s spending caps.

The framework (we haven’t seen all the details) calls for an initial step of some $900 billion in domestic discretionary cuts over 10 years from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline puffed up by recent spending. If the cuts hold, this would go some way to erasing the fiscal damage from the Obama-Nancy Pelosi stimulus.

[…]The second phase of the deal is less clear cut, though it also could turn out to shrink Leviathan. Party leaders in both houses of Congress will each appoint three Members to a special committee that will recommend another round of deficit reduction of between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion, also over 10 years. Their mandate is broad, and we’re told very little is off the table, but at least seven of the 12 Members would have to agree on a package to force an up-or-down vote in Congress.

If the committee can’t agree on enough deficit reduction, then automatic spending cuts would ensue to make up the difference to reach the $1.2 trillion minimum deficit-reduction target. One key point is that the committee’s failure to agree would not automatically “trigger” (in Beltway parlance) revenue increases, as the White House was insisting on as recently as this weekend. That would have guaranteed that Democrats would never agree to enough cuts, and Republicans were right to resist.

Instead the automatic cuts would be divided equally between defense and nondefense. So, for example, if the committee agrees to deficit reduction of only $600 billion, then another $300 billion would be cut automatically from defense and domestic accounts (excluding Medicare beneficiaries) to reach at least $1.2 trillion.

One reason to think tax increases are unlikely, however, is that the 12-Member committee will operate from CBO’s baseline that assumes that the Bush tax rates expire in 2013. CBO assumes that taxes will rise by $3.5 trillion over the next decade, including huge increases for middle-class earners. Since any elimination of those tax increases would increase the deficit under CBO’s math, the strong incentive for the Members will be to avoid the tax issue. This increases the political incentive for deficit reduction to come from spending cuts.

Mr. Obama’s biggest gain in the deal is that he gets his highest priority of not having to repeat this debt-limit fight again before the 2012 election. The deal stipulates that the debt ceiling will rise automatically by $900 billion this year, and at least $1.2 trillion next year, unless two-thirds of Congress disapproves it. Congress will not do so.

I don’t like the deal because I wanted Obama to have to face this problem with this again in May of 2012, but it may be the best deal we could get with control of only the House.

John Boehner stands up for spending cuts and job creation

Obama went on television last night to argue for more wasteful spending and higher taxes on job creators. I guess he thinks that 1.65 trillion dollar deficits and a 9.2% unemployment rate is acceptable for working families, as long as he isn’t personally affected by it.

The Wall Street Journal did not like Obama’s speech at all.


The Obama Presidency has been unprecedented in many ways, and last night we saw another startling illustration: A President using a national TV address from the White House to call out his political opposition as unreasonable and radical and blame them as the sole reason for the “stalemate” over spending and the national debt.

We’ve watched dozens of these speeches over the years, and this was more like a DNC fund-raiser than an Oval Office address. Though President Obama referred to the need to compromise, his idea of compromise was to call on the public to overwhelm Republicans with demands to raise taxes. He demeaned the GOP for protecting, in his poll-tested language, “millionaires and billionaires,” for favoring “corporate jet owners and oil companies” over seniors on Medicare, and “hedge fund managers” over “their secretaries.” While he invoked Ronald Reagan, the Gipper would never have used such rhetoric about his opposition on an issue of national moment.

[…]Apart from shifting blame for any debt default, the speech was also an attempt to inoculate Mr. Obama in case the U.S. loses its AAA credit rating. He cleverly, if dishonestly, elided the credit-rating issue with the debt-ceiling debate. But he knows that Standard & Poor’s has said that it may cut the U.S. rating even if Congress moves on the debt ceiling. Mr. Obama wants to avoid any accountability for the spending blowout of the last three years that has raised the national debt held by the public—the kind we have to pay back—from 40% in 2008 to 72% next year, and rising. This will be the real cause of any downgrade.

Speaker John Boehner made clear in his speech that the GOP doesn’t want a default but wants more genuine cuts in spending. Mr. Obama is betting his rhetoric will cause the public to turn against the GOP, but we wonder if voters will be persuaded by a man whose concept of leadership is the politics of blame.

Thankfully, John Boehner isn’t going to let Obama get away with wrecking the economy any more.

Here’s Boehner’s response:

The transcript is here.

Obama’s Monday night speech was insulting, deceptive, vindictive and divisive. He doesn’t know how to solve a problem by getting people who are opposed to him to buy into a compromise plan. Instead, he just goes in front of cameras and insults the people he has to work with. That is not the right way to get people to work together. Imagine if a manager in a private company called a press conference to excoriate some people on a different team in that company. Is that any way to get people working together to solve a problem? To point fingers at your co-workers and poison the well? It’s juvenile. Where is his plan? How is he solving the problem?

The only people I see solving the problem are intelligent people like Paul Ryan, John Campbell, Tom Price, Tom McClintock, Mike Simpson, Ken Calvert and Tom Cole. People who work weekends developing solutions. People who understand how to write policies. People with degrees in economics, business and finance. People with private sector experience running businesses and creating jobs. Obama isn’t one of those people. Obama just reads a teleprompter. He doesn’t know how to create jobs – he never did it before becoming President. So why did we elect him?