The Wall Street Journal reports:
President Barack Obama will lay out his plan for reducing the nation’s deficit Wednesday, belatedly entering a fight over the nation’s long-term financial future. But in addition to suggesting cuts — the current focus of debate — the White House looks set to aim its firepower on a more divisive topic: taxes.
In a speech Wednesday, Mr. Obama will propose cuts to entitlement programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, and changes to Social Security, a discussion he has largely left to Democrats and Republicans in Congress. He also will call for tax increases for people making over $250,000 a year, a proposal contained in his 2012 budget, and for changing parts of the tax code he thinks benefit the wealthy.
Hold on. In Obama’s original budget he proposed repealing the Bush tax cuts. How’s he going to use the same tax hikes to pay for entitlement reform?
It’s not clear whether Obama is going to offer a new budget or whether he’s going to talk in generalities. He runs the risk, of course, of unhinging his base, which has lambasted the budget put out by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), while denying there is a Social Security problem at all.
Michael Steel, press secretary for Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) told me this morning: “The Ryan budget has set the bar. In order to be credible, the White House plan must preserve and protect Medicare and Medicaid, and set us on a path to pay down the national debt. If they want to be relevant, they can’t offer the same job-killing $1.5 trillion tax hike when our economy is still struggling, and energy tax hikes when gas prices are skyrocketing.”
Let’s see how serious Obama is. One sign would be an endorsement of the discretionary cuts and/or the entitlement reforms put out by his own debt commission. Is he that bold? Umm, likely not.