Sunday, February 7 , 2016, 1:40 pm | Fair 76º

David Harsanyi: What’s Next for America’s Financial Future, Mr. President?

By David Harsanyi | @davidharsanyi |

The worst part of the fiscal cliff deal isn’t the specifics — though they do stink. It’s being reminded again how utterly detached Washington is from reality.

The question, now that we’ve finally hiked taxes on the rich (and doesn’t everyone feel better knowing that life is that much fairer?), is: How are we going to continue paying for the government we’ve been promised? As it turns out, raising tax rates on the “wealthy,” the most pressing issue of the Obama Age, amounts to a mere $62 billion of new revenue.

To put it in perspective, the deficit spending this year alone was more than $1 trillion. So the fiscal deal will supposedly bring in $620 billion in new revenue over the next decade, which is less than any year’s worth of debt under President Barack Obama. If redirecting resources from private-sector investments to green energy subsidies feels like a victory, congratulations.

But if you’re not a class warrior, a Hollywood studio, a maker of electric motorcycles, a booze producer from Puerto Rico, an algae grower or NASCAR — all of which are subsidized in the bill — you’re out of luck. For the rest of you, there are higher taxes. The expiration of the payroll tax holiday means that Washington will continue to pretend Social Security and Medicare are “paid for,” and according to the Tax Policy Center, 77 percent of you will see your taxes rise an average of $1,635 per year.

The “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012,” indeed.

For all of you, there is also more debt, as the Congressional Budget Office found that the fiscal cliff deal increases the deficit by $4 trillion.

Yes, this is what Americans voted for in November. But if we’re supposed to believe that this deal reflects a “balanced, responsible” approach as the president asserts, what does the future hold? The GOP has surrendered on its core issue: It voted for a tax hike. Obama? No spending cuts. No tax reform. No debt reduction. No entitlement reform. There is no balance. And none is coming.

How can we expect any useful policy to emerge from manufactured crisis, anyway? Nearly every decision made during Obama’s presidency has been conducted under the canopy of catastrophe. The result is hastily assembled legislation that is larded up with goodies. It’s no accident.

And a newly elected Congress will be immediately submerged into another round of “negotiations,” this time centered on the debt ceiling (which we’ve already hit). Failure to surrender to the president’s demands allows the media to portray Republicans as the ones pushing the nation into default/over cliffs/etc. Low-information voters will soon be informed by Democrats that the debt ceiling, rather than debt, is the villain.

Even if we concede that Republicans, with no leverage or leadership to speak of, did the best they could in averting even higher taxes, they still lost. And the dynamics of the debate have not changed. This might be politically fortuitous for the president, but it is a disaster for the rest of us. Obama is unserious about debt because anything that cuts the size of Washington threatens his agenda. But a looming $50 trillion unfunded entitlement crisis is real. And the party in charge hasn’t offered any concrete ideas on how to deal with it.

So now that the rich pay more, it’d be nice if we could stop incessantly complaining about how dysfunctional Washington has become — as if ideological unanimity were something to be desired in a free nation — and start talking about how indifferent the president has been on one of the critical issues we face.

David Harsanyi is a columnist and senior reporter at Human Events. Click here for more information, or click here to contact him, follow him on Twitter: @davidharsanyi, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

» on 01.04.13 @ 12:43 PM

Two things are wrong with your conclusion David. First and foremost is the rich will not pay more taxes. It is a fact that higher tax rates on the wealthiest usually mean that more wealth is pulled from the economy and “sheltered”. Its why higher tax rates always REDUCE revenue to the government, something the ideological left has a brain aneurism over and cannot comprehend. They simply don’t care though as long as the tax rates look punitive toward the wealthy.

But here is the rub which our ignorant nanny coddled population of dim wits doesn’t understand either, all tax increases are paid by the middleclass and poor. That revenue will come from somewhere and it will be directly from the middleclass and indirectly from the poor and if you don’t believe it then I suggest your head is buried far too deep in a dark hole. JFK understood this, so did Reagan, but few others do.

Second David, is that unanimity is the furthest thing from BO’s mind. Ideological purity is what he seeks and now he has the opportunity to advance that. Some accuse the GOP of being the party of “no”. But the truth is the GOP has advanced hundreds of bills to deal with the fiscal problems we are facing and the only ones saying no are the democrats and Barack Obama.

» on 01.04.13 @ 05:21 PM

At some point, Obama will have to take responsibility for the post-mini Depression Bush-Greenspan economic train wreck he inherited.

Large parts of the deficit Harsanyi laments came directly from the Bush tax cuts,
the Party of NO! Medicare donut hole, their jointly funding eight years of two wars off-Budget, then a big chunk of TARP and stimulus spending to keep the economy from going into the same kind of Great Depression that met Herbert Hoover, the last time the Party of NO! was in control of both Congress and the White House.


But Harsanyi’s right, too.

Now that we’re about to move past the Geithner era, Obama should outline how
he intends to get America back toward sustainable prosperity, and into sustained
economic recovery, and throttle back on new spending and giant current debts.

It will take the rest of this decade to show visible success in those areas, but you
have to start somewhere, no matter how intense the Know Nothing wing of the
Boehner Party sqawks.

So, Mr. President, as we move past these 11th hour, quarter-loaf measures, we
have a right to ask what your actual vision, and programs, for recovery and Debt
draw down are, and how you intend to work with Congress to achieve them.

» on 01.07.13 @ 01:00 PM

Publius, read the rant I left on Sirota’s article. Tax cuts are not responsible for deficits you blithering idiot. Spending money you don’t have IS!

The reason we are in the dire financial condition we are in is because people like you have it so damned ass backward. It is truly a bipartisan disease and an acute affliction of the baby boom credit junky gambling addicted generation.

When folks like you quit making excuses for your willful ignorance of and willful lack of common sense in finance we can then address the problem. Until then we will continue to bankrupt the republic at an alarming rate.

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