Media figures including New York Times columnist Frank Bruni and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough are distorting President Obama's proposals to claim that the president has said he will rely solely on taxes to cut the deficit. In fact, Obama has proposed a balanced approach of spending cuts combined with tax increases on the wealthy to reduce deficits.
On September 9, CBS News reported Obama's "plan for reducing the deficit would cut $2.50 in spending allowances for every $1 of increased tax revenue." Obama has advocated a balanced approach to deficit-cutting for years and continues to advocate it to this day. Indeed, some progressives have criticized Obama's budget proposals for cutting spending too much.
But in a column for the latest Sunday edition of the Times, Bruni claimed that Obama is suggesting that "extra taxation on the rich alone can solve many of our budget problems." Bruni wrote:
President Obama admits that he'd like taxes raised on households making more than $250,000. But he casts those increases as an insurance policy against any significant hikes on everyone else, and puts an emphasis on them far out of bounds with their potential impact. The implication is that extra taxation on the rich alone can solve many of our budget problems. That's savvy marketing, smart politics and utter bunk.
Scarborough similarly said that "we can't raise taxes to solvency," but "Obama's answer to everything" is "we're going to raise taxes on the rich."
The right-wing media have repeatedly pushed this falsehood that Obama wants to increase taxes to reduce the deficit while opposing spending cuts of any kind. They have also erected and knocked down the straw-man argument that taxing the wealthiest Americans at 100 percent would eliminate the deficit.
And Scarborough took this particular straw man even further. During the segment, he claimed that even if the government used tanks to seize all the assets of the top 1 percent, it would not close the deficit:
SCARBOROUGH: We could seize the assets of the top 1 percent. Take everything. Take 100 percent, go in with tanks, take their homes, sell them. Do all of that. That still wouldn't make us solvent -- not more than for eight, nine, 10 months.