In a classic episode of I Love Lucy, a fast-talking door-to- door salesman convinces Lucy she can't do without one of his "Handy Dandy" kitchen helpers, which in no time he quickly upsells to a Handy Dandy vacuum cleaner. When an irate Ricky discovers the purchase, he threatens to return it. True to form, the velvet-tongued pitchman has scant trouble convincing him to upgrade to a Handy Dandy dishwasher.This vignette bears a troubling comparison to the president's budget blueprint, which, just as quickly and via clever oratory, has spiked to a $3.6 trillion-plus spendfest that targets - surprise - raising taxes on the wealthy, earmarking $750 billion in additional financial bailout funds, and spending cuts against those whom he maintains "profited from an era of profound irresponsibility."
To be fair to President Obama, he inherited this economic debacle. His predecessors spent like beer-soaked servicemen on leave and often usurped prudent regulatory oversight with rampant cronyism. Those responsible should be given a contract to make license plates for, oh, the next 20 or 30 years.
And again to be fair, there are a number of laudable measures in the blueprint, such as stopping insane agribusiness subsidies for those earning over $500,000 a year, saving about $10 billion. There is also a plan to hike retirement benefits for some 80 million workers via the creation of "automatic" retirement accounts, and last but not least, the paring down of the Medicare prescription drug benefit commensurate with financial status.
However, the blueprint also projects a $1.75 trillion deficit - over 12 percent of GDP - for this year and doesn't really offer up any practical course to slash the current mind-numbing national debt of $12.7 trillion. In fact, the budget blueprint is stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with expensive initiatives.
For example, take the $624 billion earmarked for expansion of government health care. But let's call it what it really is - a down payment on the Democratic El Dorado of universal coverage. Depending on which report you read, universal health care, replete with the nightmarish scenario of government actuaries making crucial medical decisions, would cost the taxpayers roughly $1 trillion over the next decade.
There's also a "cap and trade" initiative to regulate carbon emissions, a $640-billion-plus proposal where, in essence, companies would pay Uncle Sam for "carbon credits." To me, that sounds fairly close to a tax hike. Granted, we need to cap carbon emissions, but does anyone think the companies will simply eat the increased overhead, rather than pass it on to consumers?
Proponents are quick to point to the plan's middle-class tax cut for families under the $250,000 mark. But is it really a "cut," or is it just semantics for not allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire at that income level?
After this, I'm beginning to realize what it feels like to need a can opener and wind up with a remodeled kitchen.
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