President Obama has finally decided that it was time to make his stance known on the budget deficit dispute that nearly shut down our government. It seems he’s picked an apt time to step up and start voicing the way he wants things done (though a little sooner would’ve been better, on lots of issues as well). Here’s a little breakdown of the proposed budgets, that of Representative Paul Ryan (of Wisconsin, buddies with Scott Walker) and that of President Obama.

President Obama already caved once to extending the Bush Tax Cuts, and I hope he has the fortitude to not back down when they expire at the end of 2012. They’re not the only thing that needs to be done to keep our deficit under control, but it’s a good moral start to showing the world the way American society actually functions. We also need to invest wisely and properly in the future, and not take away programs set up for Americans who need help.

Not to mention fixing health care. Yes, the current health care bill was a valiant effort, but it was still a half attempt at free public healthcare for every American citizen. If other countries can figure it out, so can America. But Paul Ryan’s proposed deficit plan would put us in the opposite direction, by effectively ending Medicare by replacing it with taxpayer subsidized privatized insurance plans and cutting some $700+billion from Medicad over 10 years. Weren’t Republicans bashing the Democratic bill earlier this year for “creating senior death panels”? Jon Stewart touches upon all this pretty well.

Watch The Daily Show clip here.

Obama said a lot of it best in his speech earlier today. Here’s a few good snippets from it, and hopefully he’ll keep on a track of coming through with the things he says he’s going to do. If so, America will be the better for it.

As a country that values fairness, wealthier individuals have traditionally borne a greater share of this burden than the middle class or those less fortunate. Everybody pays, but the wealthier have borne a little more. This is not because we begrudge those who’ve done well -– we rightly celebrate their success. Instead, it’s a basic reflection of our belief that those who’ve benefited most from our way of life can afford to give back a little bit more. Moreover, this belief hasn’t hindered the success of those at the top of the income scale. They continue to do better and better with each passing year.

Now, at certain times -– particularly during war or recession -– our nation has had to borrow money to pay for some of our priorities. And as most families understand, a little credit card debt isn’t going to hurt if it’s temporary.

But as far back as the 1980s, America started amassing debt at more alarming levels, and our leaders began to realize that a larger challenge was on the horizon. They knew that eventually, the Baby Boom generation would retire, which meant a much bigger portion of our citizens would be relying on programs like Medicare, Social Security, and possibly Medicaid. Like parents with young children who know they have to start saving for the college years, America had to start borrowing less and saving more to prepare for the retirement of an entire generation.

To meet this challenge, our leaders came together three times during the 1990s to reduce our nation’s deficit — three times. They forged historic agreements that required tough decisions made by the first President Bush, then made by President Clinton, by Democratic Congresses and by a Republican Congress. All three agreements asked for shared responsibility and shared sacrifice. But they largely protected the middle class; they largely protected our commitment to seniors; they protected our key investments in our future.

As a result of these bipartisan efforts, America’s finances were in great shape by the year 2000. We went from deficit to surplus. America was actually on track to becoming completely debt free, and we were prepared for the retirement of the Baby Boomers.

But after Democrats and Republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990s, we lost our way in the decade that followed. We increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program -– but we didn’t pay for any of this new spending. Instead, we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts -– tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country; tax cuts that will force us to borrow an average of $500 billion every year over the next decade.

To give you an idea of how much damage this caused to our nation’s checkbook, consider this: In the last decade, if we had simply found a way to pay for the tax cuts and the prescription drug benefit, our deficit would currently be at low historical levels in the coming years.

And worst of all, this is a vision that says even though Americans can’t afford to invest in education at current levels, or clean energy, even though we can’t afford to maintain our commitment on Medicare and Medicaid, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy. Think about that.

In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90 percent of all working Americans actually declined. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. That’s who needs to pay less taxes?

They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that’s paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs. That’s not right. And it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President.


Advertisements