Monday, February 2, 2015

The President's Wish List

Many of us remember as kids scribbling out a Christmas wish list for Santa Claus. We filled it with all sorts of goodies and waited with great anticipation for Christmas morning to see if the jolly old guy had granted our wishes.

Today President Obama will unveil his wish list in the form of a $4 trillion dollar budget that calls for higher taxes and a 7% increase over sequestration spending limits. Unlike the rest of us he won’t have to wait for Christmas morning to see if he got everything he wanted. Republicans in congress have already responded with a big “bah humbug!”

The president is calling for a massive $4 trillion dollar budget that includes tax credits for child care, paid sick leave, two years of free tuition for community college and a comprehensive infrastructure program. The president proposes to pay for these goodies by closing tax loopholes that allow companies to shelter profits overseas and levying a 19% tax on all foreign profits as they are earned. The good news is the president’s budget does not add to our country’s staggering $18 trillion dollar debt. The bad news is it does nothing to answer conservative calls to reduce it.

Congressional Republicans have already said that anything from the White House that even sniffs at a tax increase is a non-starter. They argue that tax hikes, particularly those on small businesses and corporations will hinder economic growth; and that any new spending programs that aren’t paid for with offsetting spending cuts will only add more debt burden on future generations. The way to go about this they say is to roll back restrictive policies and regulations that hamper corporate growth. Free corporations from the shackles of Obama’s restrictive policies and the profits will flow down to the middle class in the form of job growth and higher wages.

The president’s policies are good for the middle class. But somehow he has to find a way to pay for them without playing the “income distribution” card that offends conservatives to their core.

Conservatives need to get over their fantasy that corporate profits trickle down to the middle class. Corporations profited from a decade of the Bush tax cuts while the country hemorrhaged jobs at a rate of 700,000/month. Even though the Bush tax cuts are gone corporations have continued to produce record profits under the president’s “restrictive policies.” But those profits have not trickled down to the middle class. Middle class wages have remained stagnant for over thirty years and corporate profits are more likely to be invested overseas or sheltered in off shore tax havens.

Once again Washington finds itself at an impasse.

The president has his wish list. I doubt many of his wishes will be granted.

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