WASHINGTON - President Obama and the Democrats still don't get it. They laid down their budget markers this week, seeking to impose nearly $1 trillion in new taxes on an economy that's still struggling to get back on its feet.
Squeezing even more money out of a weak economy whose growth was virtually zero in the last three months of 2012 -- and that forecasters say will grow by no more than 1 to 2 percent this year, is the height of irresponsibility.
In his meetings this week with Republicans on Capitol Hill, Obama once again outlined the same tax demands he made in December for at least three quarters of a trillion dollars to, in part, replace the spending cuts forced by last month's sequester law.
Senate Democrats want even more money taken out of the economy, about $1 trillion in "new taxes" over the next 10 years. Their plan, unveiled Wednesday, would add $5.2 trillion to the federal deficit over the coming decade
House Republicans have proposed $4.6 trillion in future budget savings by repealing Obamacare and reforming entitlements, producing a budget surplus by 2023.
But the heart of the GOP's budget plan is an overhaul of a dysfunctional, wasteful, anti-growth tax code to scrub hundreds of special interest exemptions, deductions and other costly loopholes from its revenue provisions -- from billions in corporate welfare to narrowly drawn giveaways to Hollywood movie-makers.
That would yield large amounts in new revenues to, in part, offset reductions in the 35 percent corporate tax rate -- the highest in the industrialized world -- and other tax cut incentives to spur job-creating capital investment and stronger economic growth.
Republican leaders say this must be part and parcel of any budget reforms. The White House and Democrats in the Senate want the higher tax revenues first and then the budget cuts. Sure. We've been down that road many times before, only to see spending and debt soar into an ever higher orbit.
Four years ago, the government was spending over $3 trillion. Four years from now, Obama will leave office with annual expenditures of nearly $4 trillion.
I know I've sounded like a broken record on this issue, but boosting higher economic growth, in addition to cutting spending, is the critical element that's been missing from this budget debate. It gets scant attention from either side of the aisle.