I dreamed a dream in which our President put aside the politics of class warfare and delivered a wonderful speech about coming to grips with our fiscal irresponsibility.
I woke up and realized it was a dream, but imagine if it were real? What would it sound like?
For the last decade, our national budget has been in the red. Year after year, the annual budget did not cover expenses. The effects of the recession made a bad situation even worse. It also made it clear that our budget has a structural problem, and that Americans have more government than they can afford.
This budget is about priorities, and this structural deficit is an opportunity to start shaping America's future. It is time to take a fresh look at the federal government and ask the hard questions: What programs do we need? What services are essential? How can we provide the highest quality services as efficiently as possible?
We must not put off these choices any longer. Our preliminary budget estimates for 2013 project a budget shortfall of one-third of our operating budget. It is time to give Americans an honest, balanced budget that focuses on current needs while still investing in the future. We cannot protect the status quo by asking more from hard pressed taxpayers. It is time to reform government in a way that provides Americans with quality services and an affordable cost.
The 2013 budget proposal does not contain an increase in income taxes. It cuts taxes on employers to foster job growth. It makes tough choices about cutting expenses, while encouraging innovation and the reinvention of government. It also includes some revenue increases, without which it would be impossible to eliminate the deficit while maintaining and improving the vital services that Americans deserve.Interestingly, these words are Rahm Emanuel's, the President's former chief-of-staff. I took the liberty of plucking out references to Chicago and put in references to America, to make the rewrite easier for the President's speech writers. Chicago's budget deficit is less severe, in percentage terms, than the federal deficit.
These words were contained in Mr. Emanuel's 2012 budget for Chicago, where, as the newly elected mayor, he inherited a fiscal disaster that could not be blamed on Republicans, since Democrats have run Chicago since 1931 (81 years). Mr. Emanuel chose to try to fix the problem. Most recently Mr. Emanuel had to deal with a teacher's strike triggered by his continued efforts to get Chicago solvent.
I wonder why having this conversation is "pitchforking the poor" when Republicans say it, but sounds like common sense when a Democrat says it.
Maybe because it is fundamentally true? And an act of prudence and genuine responsibility for exactly the poor people we all care about, who need a non-bankrupt government much more than the rich?
Sadly, Mr. Obama cannot make this speech, since it rejects the direction he took during his first term in office, which was to hugely expand long-term government programs and debt. For the past 3 years Mr. Obama has not been able to convince even Democratic Congressmen to vote for his budgets. I find this unsettling, but apparently I am in the minority.
Like I said, it was a dream.