Obama, Taxes, and Honesty - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Obama, Taxes, and Honesty

In his latest column, Bruce Bartlett says the opposite of what I argue today on the main site: the Paul Ryan Republicans are liars and Obama is a brave truth-teller willing to admit we need to raise taxes. I’ll try to confine myself to disputing this central contention. Let’s start out by admitting this is to some extent a choice: the Democrats want to maintain the entitlement benefit levels promised by current law; the Republicans want to preserve the historic tax burden at around 18 to 20 percent of GDP.

Because of the aging of our population and other factors, we can no longer have the benefit levels where the Democrats would like them and keep the tax burden where the Republicans would like it without accumulating an unsustainable amount of debt. While Obama in theory advocates a balanced mix of tax increases and spending cuts to deal with this fiscal imbalance, in practice he rules out major changes to benefits; does not specify most of his spending cuts; does not elaborate on his plans to cut the Pentagon or broaden the tax base; promises to avoid middle-class tax increases; and focuses the bulk of his tax talk on millionaires and billionaires. In short, he does not pay for the spending commitments he wants to continue.

The Ryan budget lays out how much it is willing to tax the American people and reins in spending commitments to make that tax burden practical. And while Ryan has cited debatable growth effects in touting his plan, the budget does not rely on particularly rosy growth or revenue estimates to achieve its deficit reduction goals. You may not like what Ryan does to Medicare and Medicaid; you may believe price controls and managed competition will lower health care costs more than market competition. But Ryan more or less pays for his vision of American government and the president doesn’t come close.

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