Obama’s speech

Update: Via Krugman, The New York Times has a good side-by-side comparison of Obama’s budget approach compared to the Republicans. [end update]

I had a busy afternoon and only hear the tail end of Obama’s speech as it was delivered, but I like most of what I’ve heard about what he said.

The key thing I was listening for – and the thing I said yesterday that Obama’s approach should be judged upon: was whether his plan attempted to actually lower health care costs or just pushed those costs onto the elderly and the poor.

Here’s what he said today: “The third step in our approach is to further reduce health care spending in our budget. Here, the difference with the House Republican plan could not be clearer: their plan lowers the government’s health care bills by asking seniors and poor families to pay them instead. Our approach lowers the government’s health care bills by reducing the cost of health care itself.”‘

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

In addition, there was another key point I heard him make: That Rep. Paul Ryan’s radical and immoral budget plan paid for even more tax cuts for the extremely wealthy by cutting Medicare and other important programs:

I don’t need another tax cut. Warren Buffett doesn’t need another tax cut. Not if we have to pay for it by making seniors pay more for Medicare. Or by cutting kids from Head Start. Or by taking away college scholarships that I wouldn’t be here without. That some of you wouldn’t be here without. And I believe that most wealthy Americans would agree with me. They want to give back to the country that’s done so much for them. Washington just hasn’t asked them to.

He reiterated something that cannot be repeated enough as far as I’m concerned: Despite all the howling from the tea party about being “Taxed Enough Already,” taxes in America – especially for the wealthiest Americans – haven’t been lower in the modern era.

I need to spend some time looking into the details – those that were offered, anyway – but, so far, I’d say that Obama did a fine job of defining the progressive position in this debate. Like others, though, I believe the deficit debate should be focused on the medium- and long-term. The single best thing we can do for the deficit in the near-term is to get the economy firing on all cylinders. Cutting government spending will make that far more difficult.

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