President Barack Obama is giving the appearance of wanting a bipartisan, compromise deal on our budget, deficit, and debt. Is this real, this time, or just another version of the idle chit-chat and outright lies he’s passed off for the last five years?
The Wall Street Journal offers some metrics for assessing his behavior this time around.
- Will he drop his demand for a tax increase outside of tax reform? This has no chance of passing, and his continued insistence will poison the chance of any budget deal. On tax reform he has willing GOP partners in Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp and Ohio Senator Rob Portman, but the formula has to be lower rates in exchange for fewer loopholes. Any additional revenue will have to come from the faster economic growth that will follow.
- Will he agree to a flexible, generous guest-worker program on immigration? The AFL-CIO wants a restrictive program with a political body determining when there is a labor shortage and how many visas can be granted in specific industries. Anything close to the AFL-CIO plan won’t stop the flow of illegal immigrants coming to the US for work, but it ought to kill reform in Congress.
- Will he put more than token entitlement reforms on the table? As we wrote last week (“Obama’s Not So Grand Offer,” March 8), the President’s Medicare proposals don’t begin to solve the health-care spending problem. Short of Paul Ryan’s premium-support plan, the only chance for reform worth the name is “comprehensive cost-sharing” that forces individuals to confront at least some of the costs of their own care.
These sound like a pretty good test to me. It looks, from the Senate Democrats’ budget proposal, like he’s failed the test.