Drawing a bright line with congressional Republicans, President Barack Obama is proposing $1.5 trillion in new tax revenue as part of his long-term deficit reduction plan, according to senior administration officials.
The president on Monday will announce a proposal that includes the new taxes, nearly $250 billion in reductions in Medicare spending, $330 billion in cuts in other mandatory benefit programs, and savings of $1 trillion from the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The plan includes no changes in Social Security and does not include an increase in the Medicare eligibility age, which the president had considered this summer.
The president will also reportedly threaten a veto of any bills that don’t raise taxes for the wealthy and corporations, The Hill newspaper reports.
All in all, the president’s plan is as much an opening bid as it is a political statement designed to draw contrasts with Republicans, who control the House of Representatives.
The new taxes in particular have little or no chance of passing Congress as proposed. Republicans were already lining up against the president’s tax proposal before they even knew the magnitude of what he intended to recommend.
The $1.5 trillion in tax revenue would include about $800 billion realized over 10 years from repealing the Bush-era tax rates for couples making more than $250,000. It also would place limits on deductions for wealthy filers and end certain corporate loopholes and subsidies for oil and gas companies.
In addition to that, Obama has proposed a so-called “Buffet Rule,” raising taxes on America’s wealthiest citizens, which some pundits have called a populist move. However, what some are calling a populist move, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan derided as “class warfare.”
“Class warfare might make for good politics, but it makes for bad economics,” the Wisconsin Republican said on “Fox News Sunday.”
By adding the tax revenue, about $580 billion in proposed mandatory spending cuts, the savings from troop withdrawals and $1 trillion in spending cuts already in place, the combined deficit reduction would total about $4 trillion over 120 years. The administration also identified $430 billion in savings from lower interest payment on the debt.
Obama backed away from proposing sweeping changes to Medicare, following the advice of fellow Democrats that it would only give political cover to a privatization plan supported by House Republicans that turned to be unpopular with older Americans.
Administration officials said 90 percent of the $248 billion in 10-year Medicare cuts would be squeezed from service providers. The plan does shift some additional costs to beneficiaries, but those changes would not start until 2017, and administration officials made clear as well that Obama would veto any Medicare cuts that aren’t paired with tax increases on upper-income people.
The president’s plan also called for cuts of $72 billion over ten years from Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for low-income people and the severely disabled. States, hospitals and advocates for the poor are expected to resist those.