Throughout the debate over if and how to replace the sequestration spending cuts that have officially gone into effect, President Barack Obama pushed for what he called a "balanced" plan of spending cuts and tax hikes to attack deficit reduction, and scolded his Republican antagonists for not agreeing to his proposed tax hikes. It's been a common theme for the President for a couple of years now - acknowledging that deficit reduction is a priority while continuing to push for "balance." Expect to see it further in the coming debate over an operating budget for the federal government.
Barack Obama last week said "I'm not a dictator" in a response to reporters who ask why he hasn't been able to work out a deal with Republicans. News articles have been headlined "Republicans Refuse to Compromise." All this despite the fact that Barack Obama has gotten everything he wanted out of deficit reduction.
In President Obama's 2011 fact sheet on his budget goals, the White House wrote:
Balance Between Spending Cuts and Tax Reform: The President’s framework would seek a balanced approach to bringing down our deficit, with three dollars of spending cuts and interest savings for every one dollar from tax reform that contributes to deficit reduction. This is consistent with the bipartisan Fiscal Commission’s approach.
Since 2011, major deficit reduction has totaled... exactly what the President wants. The American Enterprise Institute's Jim Pethokoukis critiques Steven Rattner's New York Times piece that contains a chart detailing major deficit reduction efforts since 2010. And in the three pieces of deficit reduction that have occurred since President Obama's April 2011 fact sheet, there have been $2.1 trillion in spending cuts and $700 billion in tax hikes - exactly the approach that President Obama wanted.
If we take the center-left media's characterization of the Republican Party as one of all-cuts, then it's plain to see that the deficit reduction enacted has been one of complete capitulation by the Republican Party to President Obama's stated position.
It's possible that President Obama believes his stated position of three-to-one spending cuts-to-tax hikes ratio is in and of itself a compromise from what he'd actually institute if he were a dictator. That's a position he'd rather not make public, obviously. And that's also not how negotiations work. (It's entirely possible that President Obama is a very poor negotiator, though.) If the sequestration legislation were to be replaced with "a balanced plan," then the total deficit reduction ratio since April 2011 would consist of more tax hikes than even President Obama has claimed to want.
Republicans, according to the media, are the intransigent ones in this scenario. It's President Obama, however, who's gotten everything he's wanted so far out of deficit reduction.
It's not necessarily the case that the midpoint between Congressional Republicans' stated position and Barack Obama's stated position is the right one. But deficit reduction measures as they stand right now have firmly gone for the President. One side has been doing some compromising - and it ain't the White House.
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