Obama offers cuts to entitlements, GOP not taking tax loopholes off the table

While House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) signaled yesterday that closing tax loopholes wouldn’t be off the table for his caucus, President Barack Obama will offer Medicare and Social Security cuts as a way to break through the ice to reach a compromise on the budget and debt ceiling deadlock that has leaders from both parties working overtime:

As part of his pitch, Obama is proposing significant reductions in Medicare spending and for the first time is offering to tackle the rising cost of Social Security, according to people in both parties with knowledge of the proposal. The move marks a major shift for the White House and could present a direct challenge to Democratic lawmakers who have vowed to protect health and retirement benefits from the assault on government spending.

“Obviously, there will be some Democrats who don’t believe we need to do entitlement reform. But there seems to be some hunger to do something of some significance,” said a Democratic official familiar with the administration’s thinking. “These moments come along at most once a decade. And it would be a real mistake if we let it pass us by.”

Rather than roughly $2 trillion in savings, the White House is now seeking a plan that would slash more than $4 trillion from annual budget deficits over the next decade, stabilize borrowing and defuse the biggest budgetary time bombs that are set to explode as the cost of health care rises and the nation’s population ages.

How do Americans feel about the debt and budget debate?

President Barack Obama rejected a short-term deal on raising the debt ceiling, noting that the administration and Republicans are still miles apart when it comes to a long-term solution.

The folks over at Bankrupting America recently put out this video compiling data from polls showing how Americans feel about raising the debt limit, highlighting that most believe the problem is spending, not a lack of tax revenue.

Stimulus cost $185,000 per job

Pushing back against a claim by Speaker John Boehner, who recently cited numbers from the Weekly Standard noting that the so-called stimulus cost $278,000 per job, economic advisors from the Obama Administration want to set the record straight:

The Council of Economic Advisers report, issued last Friday, states that in the first quarter of 2011, the stimulus bill “has raised employment relative to what it otherwise would have been by between 2.4 and 3.6 million.”

The White House has long disputed the math of dividing the cost of the stimulus by the number of jobs created – we asked a similar question back in October 2009, when that computation resulted in the comparable bargain of $72,408 per stimulus job, as you can read at this blog post.

Marco Rubio on Barack Obama’s use of class warfare

After President Barack Obama’s class warfare rant last week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) took to the lectern in the Senate and denounced the divisive rhetoric used and explained the opportunity before members of Congress should be used to reform the tax code to make America more prosperous; not punish people for success:

H/T: Dan Mitchell

Who is Gary Johnson?

Gary Johnson’s campaign has rolled out a new video highlighting some of his accomplishments as Governor of New Mexico, including his record of cutting taxes, fiscal responsibility, having the most executive experience of any candidate in the race and exercising his veto pen more than any other governor in the country combined.

Kids vs. Jets? Seriously?

President Obama has stepped out of the shadows on the debt ceiling discussions and has taken aim at Republicans.  Unfortunately for him, most non-Democrats (and even a few of them) knew that this was going to involve a “it’s for the children” moment.  What we didn’t necessarily expect was that he would frame it as an either/or between kids and corporate jet owners.  WTF?

Over at Legal Insurrection, William Jacobson has plenty to say about it:

I watched Obama’s press conference today, and he is a wonder to behold.  He is a relentless demagogue who plays Americans against Americans and sets up false choices as part of a class warfare agenda.

Here’s a false choice (my rough transcription) which jumped out at me during the Q&A:

“Republican leaders need to ask their consituents if they are willing to sacrifice the safety of their children for a tax break for a corporate jet owner.”

This was typical throughout the press conference.  He’s the only reasonable one, the only one who cares about people, the only one trying hard to reach a “balanced” debt deal, and so on and so on, the facts be damned.  Of course, if it seems to some that he’s been detached, it’s only because he’s been so busy working on the Taliban, and bin Laden, and the Greece crisis.

He had the audacity to say with a straight face that his administration is trying to remove burdensome regulations, when in fact Obamacare and Dodd-Frank alone impose vast regulations (most of which have not been written yet, which freezes business investment) on virtually every area of the economy.

Geithner to leave the Obama Administration?

News broke last evening that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, everybody’s favorite tax cheat, may be leaving the Obama Administration once the White House and Congress work out a deal to increase the debt ceiling:

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has signaled to White House officials that he’s considering leaving the administration after President Barack Obama reaches an agreement with Congress to raise the federal debt limit, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Geithner denied that he plans to leave and said speculation about his departure was being driven by his decision to commute to New York so his son can finish his final year of high school there.

“I live for this work,” he said at the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago. “It’s the only thing I’ve ever done. I believe in it. We have a lot of challenges as a country. I’m going to be doing it for the foreseeable future.”

Geithner hasn’t made a final decision and won’t do so until the debt-ceiling issue has been resolved, according to one of the people. All spoke on condition of anonymity to talk about private discussions.

Well, I’m not going to miss him if he does leave.

Obama faces lower approval rating on the economy

It has been noted by some observers that the debt ceiling debate could pose problems for Republicans, but it’s also worth noting that Barack Obama is currently facing his lowest job approval rating on the economy:

President Barack Obama is in a fragile position as the 2012 campaign begins: Only 37 percent of registered voters approve of his handling of the economy, his lowest rating ever, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

Another ominous sign for Obama: By nearly 2-1, voters disapprove of how he’s handling the federal budget deficit, expected to hit a record $1.5 trillion this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

“It’s a real caution sign … the four-year lease on the White House is very much dependent on how people end up looking at the economy,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which performed the survey.
Overall, 45 percent said they approved of the job the president is doing, while 47 percent disapproved, a range that’s held relatively steady since late 2009. As a result, Miringoff said, “this is a very competitive election year.”

The economic numbers tell why: Fifty-eight percent of voters disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy, comprising 60 percent of independents, 31 percent of Democrats and 91 percent of Republicans.

Obama is vulnerable, though Republicans shouldn’t get too confident given that most of the candidates their field don’t do well in head-to-head match ups. But Obama can’t afford

GOP rightly walks away from budget talks

The big story yesterday was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Sen. Jon Kyl bolting from budget talks with their Democratic counterparts and the Obama Administration. Why? Democrats want to raise taxes in tough economic times, which even the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said is a bad idea. It’s politically risky, given the debt ceiling is at stake; however, Republicans have reason to believe President Barack Obama isn’t serious about his own budget proposal considering CBO Director Doug Elmendorf’s exchange with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) yesterday:

Club for Growth on Jon Huntsman

Just like in 2008, the Club for Growth is putting together a series of white papers on candidates running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. They’ve already looked into the records of Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney. The next candidate under the microscope is Jon Huntsman, who formally announced his campaign on Tuesday.

Jon Huntsman is being pegged as 2012’s John McCain, a moderate-ish Republican that has crossover appeal. But he does have some conservative credentials, such as a generally solid record on taxes. The Club notes that Huntsman cut over $400 million in taxes from 2005 to 2007, though he did raise fees and proposed a cigarette taxes hike during his time as governor.

While the Club makes note of his “B” on fiscal policy Cato Institute in 2006 (a grade that is largely due to his record on taxes), they also point out that Huntsman received an “F” on spending in the same report:

Where Huntsman fails utterly is on spending. He has proposed an annual average
hike in spending of close to 6 percent in real per capita terms, which substantially outstrips personal income growth in Utah, and makes him one of the biggest spending governors in the nation.

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