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President Obama's Anti-Romney Budget

Posted by: Joshua Green on February 13, 2012

President Obama’s budget, released this morning, is being cast —- correctly —- as a “political document.” That was the term of disparagement Paul Ryan used in a conference call with reporters this afternoon. The charge is grounded in the unlikelihood that anything resembling this package of cuts and tax increases is likely to pass and get signed into law. But that’s true of every budget, from every president.

The Obama budget is “political” because it carves out a liberal ideal of what future government spending and taxation might look like, especially in comparison to the Republican alternative that Ryan and his House colleagues are expected to unveil in the next few weeks. But it’s also political in the sense that it casts into sharp relief many of the issues Democrats believe will be most harmful to Mitt Romney, the likely GOP presidential nominee.

For one thing, the Obama budget takes aim at the “carried interest deduction” that allows private equity barons to pay extremely low tax rates, such as Romney’s 13.9 percent rate in 2010. Obama would tax dividends —- the source of much of Romney’s recent income —- at the same rate as ordinary income. And the Obama budget would also enshrine the “Buffett rule,” ensuring that millionaires such as Romney would pay a minimum tax rate of 30 percent.

Each of these provisions will be opposed by the overwhelming majority of Republicans, if not all of them. But opposing them will be especially tricky for Romney, since each of them would directly affect his tax burden. That effectively puts him in the position of having to argue that others —- not he —- should have to bear this burden. And that’s a political argument the White House is eager to have.

Reader Comments


February 13, 2012 5:56 PM

Sad it had to come down to the November election (read> 2 years wasted) but at least the day of reckoning is approaching. It's also sad that it's the Democrats that are essentially putting forward the "flat tax" proposal Read> EVERYONE pays taxes whereas the best the "fiscally conservative" Republicans can do is fight for an upside down graduated tax system (the more you make the less you pay).

David Webb

February 13, 2012 9:15 PM

RobD, you are delusional if you think a day of reckoning is coming for Republicans. Your Marxist-in-Chief had overwhelming majorities in both houses his first two years and what do you have to show for it? This is the wort post-recession performance in history since the great depression and of course FDR did exactly what Obama, big surprise! Even FDR own Treasury Sectretary finally admitted that the poicy of government spending it's way out of a recession/depression DOESN'T WORK!! Please do a little homework so you don't look so ignorant.

Michael P. Wein

February 14, 2012 10:32 AM

David Webb, it is sad that you have to resort to name-calling to make your point. If you are as educated as I think you probably are, you KNOW that Obama is nowhere near "Marxist-in-Chief", if anything probably more like a centrist. And he never had "overwhelming majorities" in BOTH houses, the Senate majority being stifled by the 60% rule, as well as a Republican "oppose everything" tendency in the House.

As to the "worst post-recession performance", the recovery (we are still in the Bush-caused recession) has been slowed down by anti-patriotic Republican recalcitrance, not by Obama's attempts at bi-lateral compromises.

And as for calling someone "ignorant", I would re-think your position and your ideas and your choices of words since you probably have heard of "Calling the kettle black ... ", have you not?


February 15, 2012 6:53 AM


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Led by Bloomberg Businessweek's Washington correspondent, "Joshua Green on Politics" is a blog devoted to national politics and public policy issues, from Congress to the 2012 Presidential campaign trail. A special focus will be the intersection of business and politics. Follow the author on Twitter (@JoshuaGreen). To book for television or radio appearances, call Patti Straus, 212-617-3279, or e-mail

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