Let's Look at Obama's Debt-Reduction Plan!

Hey American, did you do the assigned homework for today? You were supposed to watch Obama's big debt-reduction speech! People are going to try to talk to you about it, what are you going to say? Sure, whether you saw it or not won't affect your response to the plan or the president; our small, lizard brains are wired to stick with the opinions we formed as children. However, it is worth keeping up-to-date with these things. Y'know, so we have stuff to yell at our loved ones about when we run out of personal attacks.

If you have 10 minutes, here is the meat of the speech (via Politico). SPOILER ALERT: Those two American flags behind Obama just sit there.

Don't feel bad if you got bored; you aren't the only one:

What does this all mean?

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The plan aims to cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years. While the speech outlined more of a framework rather than detailed specifics, some things are clear. For example, the president's intention to allow the Bush-era tax cuts for families making over $250,000 to expire and to follow-up on some defense budget cuts recommended by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

A "fail-safe" switch would kick into effect if the debt doesn't shrink enough, and it would start forcing cuts in various sectors in order to pick up the pace.

Obama also insisted that the health care bill passed last year will cut the deficit by up to $1 trillion in the long run. He plans to do all this without drastically changing programs like Medicare and Medicaid, something House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's plan did not do (which Obama criticised Ryan about).

Ryan retorted after the speech, "What we heard today was a political broadside from our campaigner-in-chief. Rather than building bridges, he's poisoning wells."

We are not adept at picking up on metaphors, so we assume this is a call to his constituents to buy bottled water.

The "campaigner-in-chief" found time to insert his new catchphrase, "win the future," into the speech. Let's see what his 2012 rivals and their catchphrases had to say about Obama's plan.

Mitt "Believe in America" Romney: "President Obama's proposals are too little, too late, Instead of supporting spending cuts that lead to real deficit reduction and true reform of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, the president dug deep into his liberal playbook for 'solutions' highlighted by higher taxes."

Tim "Together, We Will Restore America" Pawlenty: "[The speech was] nothing more than window dressing. Everybody I've talked to that's a job provider in this country says the same thing in one form or another, get the government off my back."

Newt "Building a safe, prosperous and free America" Gingrich: "After initially refusing to offer a plan to reduce entitlement spending, he is now doing what he should have done earlier. It is not yet known whether the president will offer a detailed plan like Paul Ryan or just sketch out some broad principles. Given the president's well documented allergy to leadership on tough issues history suggests few details but plenty of soaring rhetoric."

Michele "Galileo had a computer chip implanted in his brain by Mickey Mantle" Bachmann: "Taxes, taxes and more taxes -- you'll hear from the president of the United States. That's his formula for turning the country around after spending us trillion dollars in debt, now it's time to tax the people who create the wealth."

The budget fight promises to wage on long after the president concluded his speech at the George Washington University this afternoon. The Obama administration plans to release more specifics of the plan as they hammer them out.

"This is not a matter of you go first or I go first," Obama said. "This is a matter of everybody having a serious conversation about where we want to go, and then ultimately getting in that boat at the same time so it doesn't tip over. And I think that can happen."

Again, we're not adept at picking up on metaphors, so we assume he means that whoever is the last to drown, wins.

Barack Obama makes budget pitch, slams GOP alternative [Politico]

[ngreene@villagevoice.com / @nickgreene]


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