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Congress should legislate

December 21, 2012

People would be a lot more willing to lessen government spending, even spending that they benefit from, if they didn’t think that money would be wasted somewhere else. What we have is a strong executive branch that prefers government over the private sector. It’s skilled in political pragmatism. The president is looking for revenue - more than the tens of billions of dollars a year a tax on “the rich” will produce. My fear, because of the offers he’s made, is that he wants Congress to fail so on January 1 everyone’s taxes go up. That outcome would raise hundreds of billions over a decade while the president’s political opponents get the blame.

The Simpson-Bowles plan claims to make a spending cut to tax increase ratio of three-to-one. President Obama called for this commission, but failed to embrace its solution. I met with a group of accountants recently and they made the point that any plan out there now that has a name, already has enough opposition to prevent it from being implemented. They believe that for a plan to succeed it must have a new name and the president will have to back it. If they are right, that puts our country in a difficult position. The president has not demonstrated the political will to make real cuts, the kind that must be made to have any genuine impact on the problem.