Grand Bargain: We Know How This Story Ends
When lawmakers in Congress express a strong desire for President Obama to lead on deficit reduction, that’s our cue to be very wary. Talk of a so-called “grand bargain” is an indication that someone is going to jettison their principles. That is why conservatives are not leaping for joy at the first sign of agreement between the President and Congress, which this week was a dinner that the President and several GOP senators shared followed by a lunch between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and President Obama the next day.
When the senators expressed their optimism about striking a deficit reduction deal with the President, Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham was immediately skeptical:
Republican senators who are feeling optimistic about the possibility of a deficit reduction deal after dining with President Obama last night should explain their enthusiasm. The only reason for optimism is if the President promised that tax increases are completely off the table. A fine dining experience with the President of the United States may be enjoyable, but until he jettisons his flawed, economically damaging approach to deficit reduction, there is little reason for excitement.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board expresses (sub. req’d) in clear terms why Americans — especially conservatives — should not put blind faith in the President’s proposal:
Amid the sequester noncrisis, President Obama is attempting to revive political appetites for a grand budget bargain—and this time he’s even calling Republicans on the phone and asking for support. Maybe he’s finding that berating them in public as moral cretins doesn’t inspire trust. That’s progress, but what hasn’t changed is that the deal he’s offering as fair and “balanced” is neither grand nor a bargain.
Mr. Obama says he can support $930 billion in spending cuts over the next decade as long as Republicans reverse the sequester’s $1.2 trillion in cuts and raise taxes by another $680 billion. In other words, he is proposing to ratify the fiscal status quo with only token spending cuts and no major entitlement reform and selling it as the gift of the century.
If trimming $930 billion from the $46 trillion 10-year budget sounds less than impressive when Washington is running an annual $845 billion deficit despite a 17% surge in revenue this year, the details are even less of a concession.
It would be naive for any conservative to think that bargaining with this President will result in a deficit reduction deal that is good for our economy. He has proven himself totally unserious about real deficit reduction. Moreover, his actions indicate that he wants to grow the state at the expense of individual freedom.
With regard to entitlement reform, the Wall Street Journal article explains the cuts the President has opposed would barely tip the scales:
Health care, $400 billion. Mr. Obama says he’s prepared to make tough choices on Medicare and other entitlements, even though some Democrats “violently disagree” with his plan to save $400 billion. We doubt these liberal opponents, if they exist, are sincere, because his proposal would simply expand the failed cost-control methods of the last 30 years.
To put $400 billion in perspective, Medicare’s long-term “unfunded liability”—the gap between promised benefits and the program’s ability to fund them—is roughly $42.7 trillion. When Republicans say they want to reform Medicare, they mean they want to make durable changes to the program’s structure and operations so that this gap narrows over time while achieving the same or better results. They don’t want to cut for the sake of cutting or “austerity.” They want to solve Medicare’s problems.
The President shows the same resistance to meaningful, substantial, conservative reforms to Social Security, discretionary programs, and other government programs. The bottom line, as this editorial explains, is that the only thing the President really wants to do is to “endorse the status quo.”
How is the status quo working for America so far? Republicans and conservatives should not fall for any deficit reduction proposal that just proves to be another Washington scam. We deserve better than that from our elected officials.