The White House Does a Gary Bettman

Posted: Dec 03, 2012 12:01 AM

If you’re a hockey fan, you’re probably pretty irritated that the National Hockey League’s owners and players still haven’t reached a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement, and thus the 2012-2013 season remains in limbo. You also probably know that negotiations got off to a rough start after the owners, who are presumed to have the upper hand, made a rather insulting initial offer to the players.

Well, the Obama administration must’ve stolen a page from the NHL owners’ negotiating playbook. Last week, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner—playing the role of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman—delivered to congressional Republicans the president’s opening proposal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

The proposal’s reported contents were too extreme for the GOP, and they should insult anyone who gives a fig about the federal government’s unsustainable budgetary path.

Here are the details as reported by the Wall Street Journal:

    • $1.6 trillion (over 10 years) in tax increases by raising rates on the wealthy and limiting their deductions.
    • $50 billion in new federal spending on infrastructure projects in fiscal 2013. Yep, more “stimulus.”
    • A measly $400 billion (over 10 years) from alleged savings from entitlement programs, and no structural changes.
    • Authority for the president to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling.
    • The scheduled sequestration spending cuts would be postponed for a year.
    • Another extension of unemployment benefits (because, I guess paying people not to work creates economic growth).

In case there was any doubt remaining, this administration has zero intention of trying to get the federal government’s finances in order. Zero.

The only good news is that the president’s extreme opening proposal is going nowhere, which the administration apparently expected.

The polls show that Republicans will get most of the blame if Washington goes over the fiscal cliff. If that does happen—and I still don’t think it will—the president will be the guiltier party for having passed up a chance to be a genuine leader (as the pundits like to say), in exchange for scoring some political points with his base.

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