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President's Plan: Temporary Stimulus, Permanent Tax Hikes


Location: Washington, DC

"Last week, President Obama came up to Capitol Hill to unveil a stimulus bill he's calling a jobs plan; and yesterday, the White House explained how they'd like to pay for it.

"The first thing to say about this plan is that it's now obvious why the President left out the specifics last week. Not only does it reveal the political nature of this bill, it also reinforces the growing perception that this administration isn't all that interested in economic policies that will actually work.

"But none of this is really news. Over the past few days, press reports have made it perfectly clear that this legislation is more of a reelection plan than a jobs plan. It's an open secret which Democrats all over Washington have been acknowledging to reporters since the moment the President unveiled it.

"They've said that despite the President's calls to pass this bill immediately, the real plan is to let it hang out there for a while so Democrats can use it as an issue on the campaign trail. What's more, the President knew as well as I did when he unveiled this plan that Democrats in the Senate had already scheduled a full slate of legislative business for the next few weeks. So unless the White House wants to admit that it has no regard for its own party's legislative business in Congress, the President's call for immediate action was clearly little more than a rhetorical flourish.

"But the specifics we got yesterday only reinforce the impression that this was largely a political exercise. For one, they undermine the President's claim that it's a bipartisan proposal -- because much of what he's proposing has already been rejected on a bipartisan basis. The half-trillion dollar tax hike the White House proposed yesterday will not only face a tough road in Congress among Republicans, but from Democrats too.

"The central tax hike included in this bill, capping deductions for individuals and small businesses, was already dismissed by a filibuster-proof, Democrat-controlled Senate in 2009. Another idea floated by the White House yesterday, a tax on investment income, has been vehemently opposed by the Number Three Democrat in the Senate, among others. And a proposal to raise taxes on the oil and gas industry was rejected as the job-destroying tax hike that it is by Democrats and Republicans just a few months ago. And for good reason, since the non-partisan Congressional Research Service tells us it wouldn't only raise gas prices, but would also move jobs overseas.

"So claiming this bill is bipartisan may sound good if you're out there on the campaign trail. But surely the President could come up with some proposals that both sides hadn't rejected already.

"Here's how one prominent left-leaning analyst put it yesterday, `These aren't new policy ideas,' he wrote. `The Obama administration has been looking to cap itemized deductions since the 2009 budget. Nor are they bipartisan policy ideas.'

"The specifics we got yesterday were disappointing for another reason too: not only have they failed to attract wide bipartisan support in the past; even if they did, they wouldn't create jobs.

"The President knows raising taxes is the last thing you want to do to spur job creation. He's said so himself. Yet that's basically all he's proposing here: temporary stimulus to be paid for later by permanent tax hikes, so that when the dust clears, and the economy is no better off than it was after the first stimulus, folks find themselves with an even bigger tax bill than today.

"The President can call this bill whatever he wants. But in reality, all he's really doing is just proposing a hodge-podge of retread ideas aimed at convincing people that a temporary fix is really permanent and that it will create permanent jobs. And then daring Republicans to vote against it.

"Well, I think most people see through all this.

"I think most Americans are smarter than that. I think they know our economic challenges are more serious than this and that they require serious, long-term solutions.

"I think the American people realize we can do a lot better.

"I've talked with a lot of job creators over the past few years,including many in my home state of Kentucky . It's no secret what they need to create jobs. Every one of them says the same thing -- and yet the President refuses to do any of it.

"If the President is truly interested in growing the economy and putting Americans back to work, then he'll leave the temporary proposals and the half-measures -- and the tax hikes -- aside.

"He'll consult with both parties and work with us on a plan that indicates he's learned something from the failures of the past two years, and which actually has a chance of attracting bipartisan support.

"He could start with a permanent reform of our broken tax system, reducing out-of-control federal regulations, and by passing the trade bills that have been sitting on his desk since inauguration day 2009.

"All of this is doable, all of it should attract bipartisan support, and all of it would create jobs. That would be a jobs plan worthy of the seriousness of the moment.

"But make no mistake: what the President's proposed so far is not serious. And it's not a jobs plan. After what we learned yesterday, that should be clear to everyone."

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