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President Obama to Outline Budget Plan

Posted on Wednesday, 13th April 2011 @ 06:35 AM by Text Size A | A | A

Today Barack Obama will formally enter the budget debate with a speech at 1:30pm. While he largely remained on the sidelines during the negotiations in Congress over the last few weeks, the general expectation is that Obama will now outline a broad strategy to challenge Representative Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisconsin) budget proposal. Ryan is calling for massive cuts to medicaid and a huge over-haul to medicare while largely ignoring defense spending and simultaneously lowering taxes for top income earners and corporations. The plan also calls for rolling back Obama’s healthcare reforms.

Ryan claims that with his proposal nearly six trillion dollars would be trimmed from the deficit. Some have argued that Ryan’s will actually add to the national debt over the long term with savings through cuts to social welfare being off-set by tax cuts. Others have pointed out that Ryan’s proposal relies on certain unrealistic assumptions, such as lowering unemployment to 2.8 percent.

President Obama has countered that this plan will place most of the burden of the debt and deficits on the backs the elderly and middle and working class people, while giving top income earners a free ride. It is widely believed that President Obama will bring up the taboo issue of raising taxes on top income earners.

While Americans may not want to see higher taxes, it is time for our nation to admit that we can no longer sustain the record low taxes we have enjoyed over the last several decades. Our debt is imploding and time has come for the American people to decide whether they will support a few wealthy individuals being able to buy more yachts and sports cars, or whether middle and working class children will have access to basic amenities, like a high quality education.

The GOP, however, has already announced that tax-cuts are off the table. Even with taxes at a historical low, and the budget deficit and obligations to medicare and Social Security at historic highs, the GOP is already refusing to discuss the issue of raising taxes, even if only to the pre-Bush era. Many GOP members are pushing Representative Paul Ryan’s plan which calls for the gutting of numerous social safety nets and tax cuts for the rich, even though the Reagan administration proved that tax cuts will not lead to increasing government revenues.

At a time when jobs are being shipped overseas Ryan’s proposal is not only unfair for the Middle and Working classes in America, but would prove also detrimental to our long term economic prowess. The American economy is becoming increasingly uncompetitive as funds for research and innovation dry up and American workers are becoming too expensive for unskilled labor. Meanwhile our K-12 and higher education systems, which have long been among the primary drivers of our economy, are losing ground on the global landscape, healthcare costs are skyrocketing, and the costs of social security and medicare stand to implode. Tax cuts, which will invariably lead to cuts in government investments, will not allow the U.S. to compete on the global landscape.

Efficiency is a must, yet while the GOP pretends to be pushing for a more efficient government their policies will due little to reform the bloated bureaucratic system, instead choosing to cut social services. The government needs to be reformed to deliver more services at lower costs. The recent spree of privatization in Washington D.C. was supposed to accomplish this, however so far the results have been less than overwhelming.

Hopefully President Barack Obama will sacrifice some short term popularity for long term credibility and outline a policy that both raises taxes and cuts spending. Some social services will have to be trimmed. Some federal workers will lose their job. And some people will have to pay higher taxes. While these negative effects are unfortunate, they are necessitated by the last 30 years failed politics, in which our leaders largely failed to run a balanced budget. Now we must make up for their lack of fortitude in sacrificing pet projects, increasing governing efficiency, and maintaining sustainable government receipts.

It is time for our country to come together and stop letting the unrepentant and unregulated pursuit of personal and private interests to take center stage over the long term fiscal and social health of the people of the United States. The U.S. must maintain government investments in key areas, like education and scientific research if she is to succeed in the globalized economy. And the government should also do its best to honor the promises of Medicare and Social Security, both of which are often referred to as entitlements. With these important issues on the table it is immoral to call for tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy elite, while cutting policies that help middle and working class people, which is precisely what Ryan’s bill does and precisely why it must be rejected.


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