Friday, November 9, 2012
Obama's Golden Opportunity
The Tea Party madness has left the Republican party gasping for air, and right-wing pundits are wailing and gnashing their teeth. No time for Democrats to bask in the victory; the fiscal cliff looms ominously ahead, while Republican congressional leaders appear to be digging into no-compromise mode on taxes.
This moment of peril could also be a time of historic opportunity. President Obama could capitalize on his new-found momentum by unveiling a daring new approach for resolving the budgetary woes.
What if...Rather than continuing the old polemic as before, Obama carved a new path on higher ground? Republicans are angry and hurting, and pushing them deeper into their defensive stand on taxes only plays to their strengths.
Obama could redefine the debate by delivering this televised speech:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm taking this opportunity to speak to you about a serious issue facing this country: The so-called Fiscal Cliff. This situation came about because Congress elected to put off difficult budgetary decisions until after the election. If we fail to act decisively, large cuts in important programs will take place automatically, and taxes will rise for everyone effective January 1st.
The budgetary gridlock we are in represents failure by both parties. Democrats and Republicans share in the blame. We have lacked the discipline to manage our budget responsibly, and have come to rely on borrowing as a too-easy fix.
The burgeoning debt is a legitimate issue that causes understandable angst among our citizens. Republicans have responded by taking a hard line on only one side of the equation: tax revenue. Unfortunately, this is like attempting to kill a virus by starving the patient. They decry our debt, but remain willing to borrow as an alternative to taxation, particularly when their pet projects are on the block.
We all agree on the need to restrain spending, but senators and congressmen on both sides of the aisle have their respective favorite projects and programs. We can and will continue to debate how to best spend the taxpayer's dollars, but what is needed now is a new-found common resolve to stop feeding the debt monster.
We are a great nation and we can do this. We have the resources. All we are lacking is the resolve.
Republicans have made the argument that the size of government is relentlessly growing, and feel that increased revenue only fosters more growth in government. On this, I am ready to concede that they have a valid point. The size of government cannot be allowed to grow uncontrollably.
Government spends money on many essential programs, and our constitution laid it upon the congress to decide how much to appropriate and how much to raise in revenue. This is now our challenge: To balance taxing and spending in a responsible manner that does not rely on borrowing as an acceptable means of filling the gap.
To this end, we need a mixture of spending cuts and increased revenue. Republican leaders may tell you that increasing any tax is wrong; I'm telling you that borrowing is not better than taxation. I call upon Republicans to change your pledge to "no new borrowing".
I'm calling upon Congress to address the "fiscal cliff" crisis with a balanced mix of spending restraint and increased revenue. I'm not willing to allow austerity to fall disproportionately upon those of limited means, and the wealthy certainly can pay their fair share.
I am asking for all members of Congress and the American people to support my budgetary proposal. In return for your support, I am proposing a constitutional amendment that limits the total amount of government spending to a fixed percentage of the gross national product except in times of national emergency.
Under these proposals, we will stabilize the federal budget in a equitable manner and set the foundation for future economic growth. A small amount of sacrifice now will pay dividends later. I ask that we put aside our partisan differences and move forward together as a nation. Thank you and good night."