In last week's column, we discussed President Obama and his administration's dangerous habit of making important policy statements and decisions before having all of the facts available. Well, this week some of President Obama's top lieutenants, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, have countered the president's earlier promise not to raise taxes on middle-class Americans to support his nationalized healthcare proposal. Is this yet another case of publicizing policy without having all of the input required from some of the nation's leading advisers and supposed experts?
While the White House has pressed back, reiterating their position that middle-class Americans would not bear the burden of their overly ambitious plan, it is hard to figure out the disconnect between the political operations of the administration versus those who are tasked with actually developing and implementing the policies related to our nation's economic well-being. If a middle-class tax hike is off the table, it seems key policy makers missed the memo. This is not just inexcusably sloppy -- it's dangerous.
As the nation continues to fight its way out of economic calamity, President Obama continues to insist on immediate passage of his hulking healthcare proposal. As a country, we're not even sure if we want the plan, certainly can't afford it, and yet the Obama administration demands action this calendar year, as though genuine debate and solid policy were made while running about as though on fire.
And this stubbornness holds beyond all odds -- even as we know the federal government does not have the funds or a solidified plan for how to fund yet another soon-to-be bloated government program.
Certainly the administration recognizes that federal tax revenues are already down a historic 18 percent in 2009 -- an astonishing decrease that the Associated Press calculates as the largest single-year decline since (you guessed it) the Great Depression. So what is their proposed solution to a struggling economy, insufficient funds to meet our current obligations including two wars and talk of additional government bailouts, and a deficit that is starting to near $2 trillion, you ask?
Spend more! And when the spending excesses and escalating deficit turns even the most liberal of stomachs, well, that's when even the president's own Treasury secretary recognizes the only way to proceed is to raise taxes on the middle class!
And on the political front, you may as well think of this new program as the fourth rail of American politics. If you thought that suggestions of changes to Social Security were met with scorn, imagine how difficult it will be for future generations of fiscally responsible candidates to run on platforms of government sanity in spending when the majority of Americans rely solely on the government for life-and-death healthcare decisions and our private insurance industry is shattered.
Our current system has its problems, but we have the freedom to solve those, carefully. If we rush towards President Obama's bloated plan, the seemingly necessary resulting tax hikes may very well cause greater damage to our already fragile economy. Furthermore, we'll be forever tying ourselves to an inefficient, unstable system which will drain our wallets and smother quality health care in this country.
Secretary Geithner's suggestion of tax increases, the president's backtrack, the conflicting noise coming from Congress, the hyped urgency -- all of this only serves to demonstrate just how chaotic, and downright lost, this administration's approach to policy making continues to be. It's time for President Obama to get off the campaign trail and begin the hard work of governing with tangible, understandable solutions made in the full light of reality. I only wish I was more convinced he was up to the challenge.