Paul Krugman: Obama has called the Republicans' bluff
Look, the GOP's position on taxes and Medicare and Social Security has been a con for a long time. At *least* since Reagan if not longer. The object of the con is to make money for their real 1%-er constituents at the expense of the American people. This isn't big news. This is Reality 101.
And Obama, is his quiet and confident way, is calling them on it. And not in the way an experienced ideologue would (like me, just shouting in their faces) but rather in laying out his plan for the economy--the one he just won a landslide victory on--and asking the Republicans to bring their plan to the table.
But they can't. They won't. They haven't had an economic plan that has made even a lick of sense since George H.W. Bush. This is a generation of GOP-ers who believe in their bones that cutting taxes on the rich is good for the economy, despite that being the opposite of what all evidence says. They are opposed to every method research suggests to improve the economy: infrastructure spending, lowering the Medicare age to 60, extending unemployment benefits, raising taxes on the 1%, regulating the stock market, preventing investment banks from gambling with depositor money, etc and so on.
We're going to go over the fiscal cliff and it's going to be the best thing that's happened to this economy since the internet.
No, really. While there has been a lot of bluster from the G.O.P. about how we should reduce the deficit with spending cuts, not tax increases, no leading figures on the Republican side have been able or willing to specify what, exactly, they want to cut.
And there’s a reason for this reticence. The fact is that Republican posturing on the deficit has always been a con game, a play on the innumeracy of voters and reporters. Now Mr. Obama has demanded that the G.O.P. put up or shut up — and the response is an aggrieved mumble.
Here’s where we are right now: As his opening bid in negotiations, Mr. Obama has proposed raising about $1.6 trillion in additional revenue over the next decade, with the majority coming from letting the high-end Bush tax cuts expire and the rest from measures to limit tax deductions. He would also cut spending by about $400 billion, through such measures as giving Medicare the ability to bargain for lower drug prices.
Republicans have howled in outrage. Senator Orrin Hatch, delivering the G.O.P. reply to the president’s weekly address, denounced the offer as a case of “bait and switch,” bearing no relationship to what Mr. Obama ran on in the election. In fact, however, the offer is more or less the same as Mr. Obama’s original 2013 budget proposal and also closely tracks his campaign literature.
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