At the beginning of his presidency, Barack Obama argued that the country’s spiraling debt was largely the result of exploding health-care costs. That was true. He then said the cure for these exploding costs would be his health-care reform. That was not true.
The Congressional Budget Office’s latest estimate is that Obamacare will add $1.76 trillion in federal expenditures through 2022. And, as one of the Medicare trustees has just made clear, if you don’t double count the $575 billion set aside for the Medicare trust fund, Obamacare adds to the already crushing national debt.
Three years later, we are back to smoke and mirrors. This time it’s not health care but the Buffett Rule, which would impose a minimum 30 percent effective tax rate on millionaires. If we collect the Buffett tax for the next 250 years — a span longer than the life of this republic — it would not cover the Obama deficit for 2011 alone.
The Buffett Rule is a first step in tax reform. On the contrary. It’s a substitute for tax reform, an evasion of tax reform. In three years, Obama hasn’t touched tax reform, and clearly has no intention to.
The Buffett Rule has vanishingly little to do with debt reduction and everything to do with reelection. As such, it’s clever. It deftly channels the sentiment underlying Occupy Wall Street. It perfectly pits the 99 percent against the 1 percent. Indeed, it is OWS translated into legislation
The Buffett Rule redistributes deck chairs on the Titanic, ostensibly to make more available for those in steerage. Nice idea, but the iceberg cometh. The enterprise is an exercise in misdirection — a distraction not just from Obama’s dismal record on growth and unemployment but, more important, from his dereliction of duty in failing to this day to address the utterly predictable and devastating debt crisis ahead. By refusing to create jobs and raise taxes, we're headed for a Titanic collision, even if the rhetoric endears Obama to the OWSers.