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Morning Jay: Obama's Sophistry on the Budget Deficit

6:00 AM, Apr 27, 2011 • By JAY COST
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This explains why the budget deficit debate is not only about the budget deficit. The spending and revenue projections in Obama’s budget simply do not work. Either the spending number will have to come down or the revenue number will have to go up – otherwise the deficit that his numbers produce would eat us alive. And so this debate is actually one about how big we want our government to be: should it continue to pull in an average of 18 percent of GDP in revenue and put out an average of 21 percent in expenditures, or should those numbers both be moved upwards? Given his budget proposal and the amendments to it he made in the speech he delivered earlier this month – which dealt mostly with tax increases plus tweaks to military spending and his Medicare panel – we know which side of the divide that Obama falls on. He wants those numbers shifted upwards, by a lot.

We know this despite the president’s best efforts to confuse and obfuscate his position. He wants us to think that the outlays versus revenue debate is a false one; that the positions on the left and right are really just steps in a dialectical process that ultimately ends with Obama himself. This, however, is nonsense. The president has taken an ideological stand on this issue, and it is the liberal stand.

Moving forward, watch for Obama to continue to proffer the notion that his proposal is somehow centrist, and in keeping with the oldest traditions of American policy. That’s what he has done since he first emerged on the scene in 2004 (his red state/blue state speech at the 2004 DNC was basically a blueprint of this enduring rhetorical approach), and that’s what he did a few weeks ago in this speech. Obama does not want to have a debate about the budget deficit, at least not as it relates to the size and intrusiveness of the federal government. And so he’ll travel from one end of the country to the other claiming that his opponents are just a bunch of political hacks and/or extremists, and assuring us that he’s the only one who understands just exactly what the truly American position actually is. Because that’s what he always does. But it’s all a bunch of flim flammery, intended to mask the reality that he wants a massive increase in the size of government, and that he’s quite far from the political center on this issue.

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