Odds against him, President Obama still betting on big sequestration deal
White House officials believe GOP will give way to additional taxes
Many conservatives are willing to accept the automatic cuts as the only way to reduce government spending, even though the budget knife cuts into cherished defense programs. Likewise, many liberals are beginning to embrace the cuts as a way to protect revered big benefit programs that have long been identified with the Democratic Party.
Moreover, many programs for low-income Americans are protected from the immediate cuts while the Pentagon — whose budget has long been a target of the left — faces across the board cuts of 8 percent and up to 13 percent in some of its accounts.
More than 20 Democrats in Congress, including veteran Rep. Ed Markey, a candidates for the Senate from Massachusetts, have signed a letter pledging not to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits in efforts to reduce the deficit.
Obama's plan calls for $580 billion in new revenue over 10 years by limiting the value of itemized deductions and certain tax exclusions to no more than 28 percent. That means taxpayers with a tax rate greater than 28 percent would face a tax increase.
While Obama also regularly talks about closing loopholes to gain more revenue, his tax plan would close many corporate loopholes to lower corporate tax rates, not to generate more revenue. He aims to drop corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 28 percent for most corporations and down to 25 percent for manufacturers.
In exchange for new tax revenue and a tax overhaul, Obama has offered to reduce spending in health care programs such as Medicare by $400 billion over 10 years, change an inflation formula for government benefits that would result in lower cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security and other programs, and reduce other spending for total reductions of $900 billion over 10 years.
Those cuts, together with about $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction already achieved over the last two years through spending cuts and a year-end tax increase on taxpayers making more than $400,000 would achieve a $4 trillion deficit reduction target.
Republicans though are unimpressed, and House Speaker John Boehner rejected it when Obama first offered it in December.
"Last year we proposed generating new revenue through tax reform," Boehner said Thursday. "We did that as an alternative to the president's demand for higher tax rates. Ultimately, the president got his revenues and he got it his way through higher rates. Given those facts, the revenue issue is now closed."
At the other end of the spectrum, liberals are seeking to silence White House talk about cutting entitlements.
"They're almost on a daily basis talking about (reducing) Social Security benefits," said Adam Green, founder of the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "There's no rational or political reason to do so, except some ill-conceived idea that Americans would value a grand bargain, even one that robs their grandparents of thousands of dollars."
Follow Jim Kuhnhenn on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jkuhnhenn
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