Under fire, Obama courts middle class
On Sept. 19, American President Barack Obama announced his deficit reduction plan in the White House Rose Garden. The major theme in his speech was the protection of American equality values in the process of generating revenue for the plan. Obama’s rhetoric included the phrase “fair share,” which he used frequently, to illustrate the overall framework for his plan.
Obama is well aware that raising taxes always creates unrest in the public. To soften the message, he quoted George Washington explaining that debts can only be solved with revenue, which must come with the difficulties of raising taxes.
The purpose of the plan is said to create “conditions where businesses can hire and middle-class families can feel a basic measure of economic security.”
Both the Republican and Democratic parties agree that the deficit must be reduced by $3 trillion more, including the $1 trillion in cuts from August, in order for this to be achieved.
The revenue is expected to come from four different areas. Tax reforms, on the 2001 Bush era tax cuts for the upper tax bracket as well as the closing of many tax loopholes, will contribute $1.5 trillion, the most revenue of the four.
Spending cuts from policies like reforming agricultural subsidies and Medicare and Medicaid are expected to contribute $580 billion. The diminishing or ending of the United States’ role in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to provide $1.1 trillion in revenue. And finally, from decreasing the overall debt, the government will also save $430 billion from the lower amount of interest paid.
A quick glance at the list of cuts and reforms that Obama is planning gives the impression that the president’s deficit reduction plan is weighted heavily towards the responsibility of the upper-tax bracket.
The new “Buffett Rule” is being accepted in the debate, which decisively states that any individual earning over $1 million cannot pay a lower income tax rate than someone who makes less.
This is an important ruling as a high amount of income that these elites achieve is from investments, which are taxed at a much lower rate than corporate salary.
The question becomes, why does Obama care so much about protecting the working class now?
He did not display the same bravado during the July and August debt crisis where he catered the future of the US debt-based economy around the interests of the Republican party and their supporters.
It could just be a change of heart that can potentially occur in any human being, although this would be very unlikely given the massive amount of interests that are constantly competing for the president’s attention.
Republican Senator John Thume of South Dakota later dismissed the president’s plan as being motivated by “election year politics” and, thus, insincere. On the other hand, Democrat Senator Carl Levin of Michigan was pragmatically happy that Obama was acting progressively in his planning instead of simply becoming cynical of his intentions.
It is hard to doubt that the president has set the goal of weighting the deficit-reduction responsibility primarily on the shoulders of the wealthy elite of America. However, it is always up for question what exactly the president’s motives for this plan could be.
Obama comments on his proposed structural reforms for Medicare and Medicaid, which are part of the $580 billion in spending cuts, and reminds that “we will reform Medicare and Medicaid but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment that this country has kept for generations.”
He threatens that he will veto any bill that proposes cuts that will affect benefits for those who need them most.
The president seems to be making a very conscious effort to comfort the working class.
His promise to allocate a “fair share” of responsibility for the deficit reduction has resonated throughout the ranks of American politicians and incited different responses from each.
It is now up to the commentaries of Republicans and Democrats alike to mould the president’s plan into a reality that can be contemplated by individuals from any degree on the political spectrum.
Yet, the sincerity of his motives remains in question.
His focus on the working class now seems more steeped in electoral awareness than any genuine concern for the debt.