To believe our so-called leaders in the White House and Congress, we must choose between taming the U.S. debt and creating jobs: Text "GOP" for balanced budgets, or "Obama" for spending on infrastructure and education. Don't believe them. It's a false choice—a cop-out.
There is a third option. Somewhere between the president's hypocritical dismissal of the debt crisis and the Republicans' slavish obsession with tax cuts lies vast room for compromise that would promote both economic recovery and fiscal sanity.
President Obama on Monday unveiled a proposed $4 trillion budget that includes a six-year $478 billion public-works program for upgrading the nation's roads, railroads, ports, and other infrastructure.
He would impose a onetime 14 percent tax on about $2 trillion in foreign profits kept overseas by corporations. There would be tax hikes for the rich, tax credits for the middle-class, and free community college.
"My job is to present the right ideas," Obama told NBC News in a pre-Super Bowl interview. His smug subcontext: I've got all the answers.
Republicans controlling Congress will reflexively reject Obama's proposal and finish work on a plan that would eliminate deficits entirely over the next 10 years. The GOP would take aim at Social Security and federal health programs, the biggest drivers of mounting debt.