I can’t be the only one worried that President Obama keeps talking about making sure the middle class comes out O.K. from the national fiscal debate. Here he is again, in a statement from his Hawaii vacation:
Obama vows to do more to reduce the deficit but continues to insist that any future spending cuts must be balanced with tax reforms.
“The wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations shouldn’t be able to take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most Americans,” he says.
“If we focus on the interests of our country above the interests of party, I’m convinced we can cut spending and raise revenue in a manner that reduces our deficit and protects the middle class,” he concludes. “These aren’t just things we should do, they’re things we must do. And in this New Year, I’ll fight as hard as I know how to get them done.”
What about the poor people, don’t they need protecting even more than the middle class do? I also worry about who the President thinks (rather than says) qualifies as “middle class” exactly. A chart in Matt’s post on New Year’s day suggests that President Obama’s “middle class” sweet spot may be somewhere around the region of those earning $300,000 to $400,000 a year – they got more of a tax break than those earning less than $50,000, by a considerable margin, from the end-of-year deal with Republicans. I’d suggest if you’re earning $300k a year you really don’t need all that much protecting.
The Republican party is a divided shambles right now, with Tea Partiers vowing to primary every Republican who voted for the deal with Obama. But if Obama says “cut spending” and means “not protecting the poor” by making cuts to Social Security, Medicare or other safety net programs in a mostly-stagnant economy, then he’s in for a divided party himself.