The $4 trillion budget President Barack Obama sent Congress on Monday is his blueprint for reviving “middle class opportunity.” Liberals are thrilled by the redistributive thrust of the president’s budget — it would hit affluent Americans with a battery of new tax hikes, totaling $2 trillion over the next decade, and use the proceeds to finance substantial tax cuts for low and middle income families.
However, this has, of course, scandalized tax-averse congressional Republicans, who echo House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan in denouncing the Obama budget as an exercise in “envy economics.”
Given the partisan stalemate in Washington, many pundits therefore view the White House budget as a purely political statement intended to frame the 2016 presidential debate. Next, the GOP Congress will produce a conservative alternative, and each side will spend the next two years accusing the other of waging class warfare.
Except that the federal government actually does need a budget, especially one that reinforces the economy’s gathering momentum. The one thing both parties seem to agree on is that reversing middle class stagnation is the nation’s top priority. What America needs more than anything else is a long stretch of robust economic growth, something we have not seen since the 1990s, when both the growth and unemployment rates averaged about 4 percent a year.
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