Paying The Bill

Megan responds to this reader e-mail:

How are we paying for this?  Dunno.  It's all too vague.  But to my ears, Obama has so far failed to rule out anything expensive, like generous subsidies, and also failed to outline who he's going to tax or cut benefits to if he's serious about deficit neutrality.  So a mere stated wish to stay deficit neutral just won't do--every president states that sort of wish.  The question is, what will they do to get there?  Obama's coyness on this topic is reaching its sell by date.  It's time for the president to commit to an actual plan with actual numbers we can check.

It's possible that he will manage to pay for it all, in which case, I salute him--but that still leaves that deficit of 4% of GDP in 2019.  Even George Bush made a stab at getting his future deficits lower than that, and in fact managed to get it down near 1% towards the end of his second term.  Spending your limited ability to raise taxes on new programs, rather than reducing the existing deficits, and hoping that someone else will be forced to fix the problem sometime in the future, is not fiscally responsible.  Fiscally responsible is when you put balancing the budget in front of the other things you want to do.  Neither Bush or Obama has, thus far, evinced any actual willingness to do so.