The two most noteworthy features of the Obama jobs/deficit proposal are the massive tax hikes and the additional powers granted to IPAB. It goes without saying that raising taxes is, in general, not popular, and that Republicans will use the public’s resistance to tax hikes against Obama.
As Mickey Kaus and Andrew Stiles point out, though, IPAB is similarly unappealing. The idea of an unelected Individual Payment Advisory Board cutting Medicare costs by getting rid of ineffective treatments is one that the public increasing finds troubling, and also one on which Obama is increasingly reliant. When the “death panels” scare threatened to stall the passage of IPAB as part of Obamacare, Democrats were forced to make all kinds of reassuring statements about how IPAB wouldn’t be used to ration care. Now, just one year later, Obama wants to “strengthen” the board to make it easier to cut health care costs — long before it even comes into effect. At this rate, it’s worth wondering how many additional powers Obama will have given or tried to give the panel before it comes online in 2014.
Brian Beutler of the liberal Talking Points Memo blog shares my assessment that Obama’s jobs/deficit proposal is the left-wing analogue to the Paul Ryan plan, although it wouldn’t come close to stablizing the debt. The Ryan proposal has a few elements that Democrats will find easy to campaign against, and others that they will simply demagogue. Obama’s plan isn’t as honest about liberals’ plans for the country as the Ryan plan is about conservatives’, but it contains enough for Republicans to highlight at least two rightly unpopular features: 1. Massive tax hikes. 2. The fact that Obama’s unstated plan for Medicare’s rising costs includes placing more and more power in the hands of unelected bureaucrats, so that they can make more decisions about medical procedures in place of seniors.