This town is known by many colorful metaphors. Some can be repeated in print; a whole host of others cannot. The one that seems most fitting to describe the post-centennial days of President Obama’s administration is an open-air carnival, where the country’s most left-leaning carpetbaggers come to peddle their wares. Center stage in this gluttonous festival resides the largest carousel, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Johnson era, rotating around its axis of federal spending. Circling on this merry-go-round sit several policy initiatives and executive decisions that are flawed to the core. They openly mock the very moderation the Democrat Party espoused as the centerpiece of its working agenda, and lead one to conclude that paybacks and kickbacks will be the two-sided calling card of this Congress’s term.
A timid budget plan. We begin with the president’s most recent commitment to fiscal austerity and his party’s response, which amounted to a collective yawn. This Congress isn’t serious about budget cuts. It doesn’t have to be. Democrats can simply wag their finger at Republican naysayers, recite the tired “don’t lecture me on deficits” line, and then spend with abandon. Besides, the president’s budget reads more like an AIG bonus wish list than a lean tight blueprint. The $17 billion in savings is exactly half of what his pork-belly predecessor proposed last year, and still, budget analysts predict Democrats won’t make even those sheepish cuts a reality.
Feed the spending beast. The Federal City is desperate for cash, in any form. The more it feeds, the more its desperation grows to continue the frenzy. And that desperation has clearly clouded the Democrats’ judgment on international tax policy. The president’s announcement last week amounts to an 8 percent increase in corporate tax rates (the nation’s job producers, by the way). You think tax fraud is wrong? So do I. And yet just $8.7 billion of Mr. Obama’s $210 billion proposal would come from ending actual tax evasion.
Cap, trade and tax. Even in areas where consensus among the majority party remains weak and tentative, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her merry band of egalitarian do-gooders push onward. Centrist Democrats have heard enough from their constituents that higher energy prices in exchange for comprehensive climate controls is untenable. Despite the obvious pain of cap-and-trade, environmentalists have staked their entire agenda on this measure, and Mrs. Pelosi and Rep. Henry A. Waxman will roll a few of their own to ensure these green checks are cashed.
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