The President will unveil his much anticipated 2012 budget and deficit proposal this afternoon. This will be the Presidents second attempt at providing Americans with his vision of their economic future. You may recall his first attempt was during the State of the Union address. That speech was long on ideology and short on specifics. One can only hope that today’s address is not more of the same.
The White House has allowed the Republicans to lead the debate on debt reduction. They assumed that Speaker Boehner, Senator McConnell, Majority Leader Cantor and Budget Committee Chairman Ryan would join the President, Vice President Biden, Senator Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi behind closed doors where a back room deal would be forged. Their plans went awry last week when Budget Chairman Ryan dropped the Republican plan for 2012 on the President’s desk. While we disagree with a number of the components of Mr. Ryan’s proposal we acknowledge that it was bold, well thought out and outlined specifically the Republican’s agenda for the country’s future; including recommending radical changes in Medicare and Medicaid.
Having miscalculated the Republican’s nerve on the eve of the campaign season the White House finds itself playing catch-up. The President must now show that he, not Paul Ryan, will lead the country out of its economic difficulties.
Any serious discussion about deficit reduction must include substantive changes in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Defense spending and taxes. It must also include measures for increased revenue and economic growth. You cannot slash your way out of this deficit nor can you tax your way out of it. And as changes are implemented care must be taken to avoid halting the country’s very fragile economic recovery. If any of these components are missing then you are just whistling past the graveyard.
The Ryan proposal lays most of the burden for reducing the deficit on the backs of the elderly, the poor and the middle class. The cost of health care is not reduced but merely shifted from the federal government to the states and the individual citizens. Medicare and Medicaid cease to exist as we know them. The Ryan plan continues Bush tax cuts and lowers the corporate rate from 35% to 25%. It does not touch Social Security.
Now comes the President’s proposal. The last time he addressed the subject he was whistling. Let’s hope this time he is singing a different tune.