In negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff, U.S. President Barack Obama is calling for $1.4 trillion in new tax revenue over the next decade.
The Republican opposition, led by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, has signaled that the Republicans could stomach generating as much as $800 billion in new revenue over the next decade, or half of Obama’s number.
Such a large difference obscures a more fundamental agreement: Neither side is interested in addressing the central role federal spending plays in creating persistent deficits and, more important, damping economic growth.
The deficit for fiscal 2012, which ended on Sept. 30, came in at about $1.1 trillion, marking the fourth consecutive year that the nation has posted a trillion-dollar-plus spending gap. Contrary to what Dick Cheney said when he was vice president, deficits do matter.