President Barack Obama outlined plans Wednesday for slashing $4 trillion from the federal budget deficit over the next 12 years, the bulk of it by cutting domestic social spending, particularly in the area of health care.
His speech at George Washington University in the US capital demonstrates the consensus in the American ruling elite for a frontal assault on social programs upon which tens of millions of working people, children and retirees depend.
Obama largely accepted the deficit reduction framework set by the Republican right. But he proposed a different mix of spending cuts, as well as calling for tax increases on the wealthy, something that the leaders of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have ruled out in advance.
The proposed tax hikes are extremely modest, merely allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire at the end of 2012 and restoring the tax rates that prevailed under the Clinton administration. The promise, moreover, is an empty one. Obama caved in to Republican opposition to raising taxes on the rich last year, when the Democrats still controlled both houses of Congress. Why should anyone believe he will act differently now?