Taxes & Spending

Preview of the Obama Fiscal Year 2013 budget

WASHINGTON — With the Obama administration set to unveil its proposed budget on Monday, few lawmakers are expecting any surprises.

All signs are strong that what will come out of the White House in terms of a budget outline for Fiscal Year 2013 will be one that calls for reduction in federal health programs, deeper cuts in defense spending and fresh taxes on what the president has variously called “corporate jet owners,” “best-selling authors” and “the wealthy” — by which he usually means American wage-earners who make over $250,000 a year, who will be facing higher taxes when and if the Bush-era tax cuts expire this year.

The Obama White House is also expected to push for $1.5 trillion in fresh taxes on corporations and renew its fight for households with annual incomes of at least $1 million to pay at least 30 percent of their income in federal taxes.  Release of this proposal is sure to fuel the cries of “class warfare” and “election year demagoguery” that were so often flung by Republicans on Capitol Hill last year.

“This means one more trillion-dollar deficit to the American people,” freshman Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) told HUMAN EVENTS during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) here in Washington a few days ago.  “And [Obama] is likely to present tax increases to the American people at a time when we’ve still got massive unemployment.

“In short, more of the same.”

Both Pompeo and fellow freshman Republican House Member Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.) agreed that the administration will again forego an opportunity to do something they attempted to address in the last budget battle: tackle the issue of entitlements.

“We’ve got to have a discussion [on entitlements] as adults ,” Buerkle told us, agreeing that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — not discretionary spending — are the major causes of the deficit.  Lawmakers are expected, the New Yorker said, to “preserve Social Security for our senior citizens.  They expect us to do that.  They need it and have relied on it, so we’ve got to have that discussion.”  Both Buerkle and Pompeo noted that they and their fellow Republican freshmen in the House “all campaigned saying we’ve got to fix those things and we’ve got to strengthen them and the President has rejected our efforts at every turn.”

Republican lawmakers and the Democratic-held White House are likely to have major skirmishes over extending the cut in the payroll tax that was finally agreed upon days before Christmas last year and on extension of the Bush tax cuts for all Americans. Several published reports over the weekend concluded that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) would almost surely trim his proposal for an eventual privatized program to replace Medicare to one that preserves the entitlement in some form.

If this all sounds hauntingly familiar, it is because all the elements in the likely Obama administration budget and expected budget battle were hashed and rehashed last year.  It is, as Pompeo summarized it, “more of the same”—only the arguments over it will surely be more incendiary.  It’s an election year.

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