It appears there’s a new kind of “tenther” in town. Not the kind who believes that the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution means just what it says, and should be enforced accordingly, but the kind whose big deficit-closing ideas amount to tenths of a percentage point of the problem.
The “budget tenther” in chief? Barack Obama. As Bloomberg reports:
President Barack Obama’s proposal to end a tax break for corporate jet owners, a repeated refrain in his news conference yesterday, would achieve less than one-tenth of 1 percent of his target for reducing the federal deficit.
Changing the provision would put $3 billion into the Treasury over a decade, said two congressional aides familiar with the proposal. Democrats want to require companies that use jets for business purposes to write off the cost over seven years, instead of five years allowed under current law, said a congressional aide and a White House aide. Airplanes used for charter or commercial flights already must be depreciated over seven years.
Obama mentioned the corporate jet break six times, criticizing Republicans’ unwillingness to include tax increases in legislation to raise the federal debt ceiling. Republicans are pressing for spending cuts in the measure, which must be passed before Aug. 2, when the Treasury Department projects the U.S. will no longer be able to meet its debt obligations.
All told, the tax breaks on corporate jets (which Democrats included in the 2009 stimulus), oil and gas companies, and hedge fund managers would, by one estimate, generate $64 billion in new revenues during the next 10 years — $6.4 billion a year on average, or a whopping four-tenths of 1 percent of what have become annual budget deficits of $1.5 trillion.
A tenth here, a tenth there — pretty soon, you’re talking about an entire percentage point!
It’s no wonder Obama thinks Congress — which really means “congressional Republicans”; don’t be fooled into thinking he’s taking Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer to task just as much as John Boehner and Paul Ryan — should take the lead on the budget issue. At his “budget tenther” rate of progress, the debt ceiling compromise could be hammered out by Aug. 2 … sometime in the 2030s.
On the debt ceiling, it seems, Obama is just as serious as ever.
– By Kyle Wingfield