Houston, we have a problem. Despite the dire fiscal challenges facing America, our elected leaders in Washington, D.C., particularly President Obama and the most influential congressional Democrats, apparently don’t believe there’s a problem. When it comes to the country’s deficit and debt, they appear to be living on another planet.
How else to explain the statement recently attributed to Obama by House Speaker John Boehner, uttered during the most recent round of negotiations on the “fiscal cliff”?
“At one point several weeks ago, the president said to me, ‘We don’t have a spending problem.’ ” Boehner told the Wall Street Journal.
As if to prove the point, Reuters reported this week that President Obama insisted that $64 billion worth of corporate tax breaks be added to the fiscal cliff deal, including a $222 million credit for the rum industry, a $78 million write-off for owners of NASCAR race tracks, and a $248 million break for Hollywood that will allow studios to write off their production costs more quickly.
The Associated Press, tallying up the 50 tax breaks in the bill, came up with an even higher cost: $76 billion over the next 10 years. “It’s hard to think of anything that could feed the cynicism of the American people more than larding up must-pass emergency legislation with giveaways to special interests and campaign contributors,” Sen. John McCain told the AP.
Yet, not including this bundle of corporate pork into the package was, according to those involved with the negotiations, a “deal breaker” for the White House.