Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Something's Gotta Give: How will [President-elect] Barack Obama pay for all of his promises? He can’t.

That's the headline at Slate's 'Big Money' blog. The first thing I thought when I saw the story was "Whoa. Slate is left-leaning". Here's the story, the numbers are out of date (events are moving fast), the total bailout is over three trillion now, but that just makes the thesis all the more cogent:

Never has the prose of governing been so distant from a campaign’s poetry. Barack Obama begins his transition and will take office under ruinous economic conditions—consumers aren’t buying, layoffs have begun en masse, and a creaky federal government has become the national lender of first resort. Obama’s overall campaign narrative, on the other hand, was made even more alluring by the crisis, embracing a positive role for government generally. Specifically, it was a liberal’s dream—a blizzard of new money and programs. This is hope that’s hard to deliver. And health and education reform seem to be most at risk.

Obama’s signature tax proposal plan, which rose to a “Read my lips” level of insistence, lards on the goodies. There’s the “Making Work Pay” for all but the highest income earners tax credit, plus eight other different kinds of credits for everything and everyone, including the college-bound, seniors, health care, child care, and makers and users of energy-efficient products. The Tax Policy Center estimates that this would add $3.6 trillion to the national debt by 2018, more than double the increase that would otherwise be expected.

That’s just the tax side. Here are some other big-ticket Obama items (a fuller list is at Obama’s new transition site,