Obama was reelected on a twofold promise. Part one was to make the wealthy pay their fair share. Part two: fix our debt crisis, which Obama himself has conceded is chiefly driven by entitlement spending. Right or wrong, he’s done part one, according to the standards he laid out in the campaign (although he did want to raise taxes on incomes starting at $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples but settled for $400,000 and $450,000, respectively). The fiscal-cliff deal raises $41 in taxes for every dollar it cuts in spending — not just by raising rates on the wealthy, but also by raising payroll taxes on everyone. The revenues from making the rich pay their fair share will slow the sinking of America into an ocean of debt about as much as throwing all the swizzle sticks off the Titanic would have delayed the inevitable.
Heck, the deal actually increases spending and the national debt. So, clearly, promise number two remains unfulfilled.
Will Obama act on the second part of his mandate? It doesn’t look good. He’s now claiming he already cut $1 trillion in 2011, largely by “cutting” spending no one ever planned to spend. If I plan to build an orbital Death Star for $10 trillion and then think better of it, I’ve cut $10 trillion, according to Obama’s math. His own White House Office of Management and Budget says spending went up $147 billion last year.