Oops

About requiring those millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. It’s not going to be enough to get Obama his goodies; namely, lowering the deficit while still spending investing In Our Future™.

Mr. Salam, a policy adviser at the pro-market think tank Economics 21, observes that the revenues Mr. Obama needs to pay for his agenda fall in the rung just below the super-rich—that is, Americans earning between $100,000 and $200,000.

That block of voters went strongly for Republicans. Thus, the problem. He needs that money, but if he takes it he’ll lose the next election.

What. To. Do?

“The President’s political advisers are keenly aware of the fact that Democrats need to improve their performance with these voters or face defeat in 2012,” Mr. Salam writes. “This helps explain the profound irrationality of the Obama administration’s approach to key public-policy questions.” By irrationality, he means what Mr. Galston means: the split between what the president needs to do economically to fund his programs and what he did politically to get himself elected.

The millionaires and billionainer simply can’t get er done.

So here’s the question for 2012: If we the people don’t want the higher taxes that are needed to support not only ObamaCare but a growing federal government, are we willing to support the real cuts that go along with that choice? And if we decide we don’t want these programs touched, will we accept the higher taxes that go along with keeping them, including for people making a lot less than $250,000?

There simply isn’t enough money among the rich. So, the “less” rich need to pay or we need to cut programs. The grim news from Kevin D. Williamson:

Repeat as necessary: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national defense is where the spending is. Raising taxes enough to cover that spending and stabilize the debt would mean an 88 percent increase in every federal tax — not just for “the rich,” but for everybody, according to IMF estimates. Raising taxes on the middle class to support Social Security and Medicare for the middle class is a shell game. You may as well just cut the benefits: essentially the same outcome, but more cleanly executed.

One “gimmick” that will help balance things?

We spend most of our money (more than half) on entitlements and welfare, and those are rife with abuse. Prof. Malcolm Sparrow of Harvard estimates that net health-care fraud in the United States runs $100 billion to $500 billion a year, with a great deal of that paid out by the federal government. (Miami alone is estimated to account for $3 billion in Medicare fraud annually.) Peter Orszag has estimated that 30 percent of Medicare spending (which totals more than a half-trillion dollars a year) is wasted, largely through overpayment for services. Sen. Orrin Hatch has put combined Medicare-Medicaid fraud at $200 billion a year. For comparison, the Iraq War cost $140 billion in its most expensive year.

So, next time someone says we need to cut Medicare spending by 30%, imagine that those cuts aren’t on the backs of the poor and hurting. Instead, it is from waste, fraud, and abuse.

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