The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
I was quoted in the New York Times yesterday, which is kind of fun. Many of my friends read the Times, and it’s a great way to make new friends, and enemies.
Here’s the quote:
‘The thing we still don’t know about him is what he is willing to fight for,’ said Leonard Burman, an economist at the Urban Institute and a Treasury Department official in the Clinton administration. ‘The thing I worry about is that he likes giving good speeches, he likes the adulation and he likes to make people happy.’
‘So far,’ he said, ‘It’s hard to think of a place where he’s taken a really hard position.’
Carry wrote that she didn’t see psychologist or mind-reader among my list of accomplishments, so how could I know that the president likes the adulation. She’s right. As the president would say, “I screwed up.” I said what I believe to be true, but the New York Times was not interviewing me because I’m an expert in presidential psychology. I should have stuck to policy.
And I certainly don’t begrudge the president a little adulation,
That said, I’m really worried. I have no doubt that this president understands our long-term fiscal problems and their potentially catastrophic consequences. I know for certain that his top advisers understand because I have worked with most of them. And the president has said the right things—he does give a great speech—but his actual proposals would just make things worse.
There’s simply no way that we can get out of the hole if we extend most of the Bush tax cuts, extend most of the expensive new “stimulus” tax cuts for the middle class, and pass a host of expensive new spending programs, even if we raise taxes on those making over a quarter million.
Bush was wrong when he implied that we could fight terrorism by going to Disney World, and Obama is wrong when he implies that only the well off will have to sacrifice to get our finances back on track.
I understand that the president is not going to talk about tax increases during a recession, and he shouldn’t, but I sure hope that he is prepared to ditch the happy talk when the economy is on the mend.
In the meantime, I’m looking for any sign that he’s willing to spend some of his political capital pushing important but politically difficult positions. So far, I’ve been disappointed.
Posts and comments are solely the opinion of the author and not that of the Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute, or Brookings Institution.