For a long time now, President Obama has said that he backs a "balanced approach" to getting the nation's fiscal house in order. That is, the president says he wants to raise some taxes and cut some spending in order to reduce public debt—which stands at more than 100 percent of total economic activity (GDP).
So how come all he talks about is hiking taxes? Over at the White House website, what's front and center is a confusing pitch about "Extending Middle-Class Tax Cuts," which is in fact a way of saying that the president wants to see taxes on the wealthiest Americans rise back to the levels they were at circa 2000.
In September, Obama told Face the Nation:
If we go back to the tax rates for folks making more than $250,000 a year, back to the rates that we had under Bill Clinton…we can close the deficit, stabilize the economy, keep taxes on middle class families low, [and] provide the certainty that I think all of us would be looking for.
At the same time, as CBS News put it, Obama's "plan for reducing the deficit would cut $2.50 in spending allowances for every $1 of increased tax revenue."
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that hiking tax rates on those making $200,000 (individuals) or $250,000 (households) back to Clinton-era levels would yield about $42 billion in 2013. So what are the specific $105 billion in cuts ($42 billion x 2.5) that Obama will make?
That's not a complicated question, is it? But good luck finding any specifics at the White House website or in past proclamations by the president and his spokesmen. The U.S. will likely spend about $3.8 trillion in 2013, which means cutting $105 billion amounts to a trim of less than 3 percent. So we're not talking large cuts by any measure. If Obama can't come up with what amounts to pocket change in the federal budget, why should anyone take him seriously about pursuing a "balanced approach"?