Club for Growth President Chris Chocola tells Newsmax TV that President Barack Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget proposal introduced on Wednesday is “more a political document than a governing document.”
“It’s late — and it never balances,” Chocola says in an exclusive interview. “It raises taxes. It grows the size of government, increases the deficit — and therefore really restricts freedom.
“It increases taxes on not only wealthy individuals, but middle-class individuals as well. The more we learn about it, the less we’re going to like it.”
President Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal 2014 would limit tax deductions for top-earners, increase the estate tax, raise taxes for many lower-income households — and even lift taxes on tobacco. It also would make modest cuts in Social Security by changing how the government calculates the annual cost-of-living adjustments.
Under the plan, the adjustments would be modified to track a process known as a “chained” Consumer Price Index.
Club for Growth is a fiscally conservative political organization that supports a low-tax and limited-government agenda. Chocola became the group’s president in 2009. Before that, he served two terms as a U.S. congressman from Indiana.
“We don’t think it really embraces the real challenges our nation faces with entitlement reform,” Chocola tells Newsmax of the Obama budget plan. “It kind of nibbles around the edges; what it tells people about how much they can save for their retirement and spend on their retirement is inappropriate.”
While he acknowledges that some entitlement reform may result from using the chained CPI on Social Security and similar programs, “it should be a part of a bigger solution. It’s not a solution in itself.”
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Obama is hosting Republican senators at the White House for dinner on Wednesday, perhaps to sway their thinking on his budget plan. “It’s political theater,” Chocola says. “The president is trying to put on a show.
“I only wish that there were some very constructive conversations as a result, because there are only two things we can really do as a country to put ourselves down a sustainable fiscal path — and one of those is real pro-growth tax reform that results in a growing economy and real fundamental entitlement reform.”
Since the Obama plan contains tax increases, the Club for Growth is closely watching how Republicans — and House Speaker John Boehner, in particular — negotiate the budget process, especially since the House has endorsed the proposal from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
“There’s always a concern that the GOP could cave on some things,” Chocola tells Newsmax. “What the speaker should do is pursue the policies embedded in the Ryan budget. The House just passed it. There are a lot of good things in that, especially when it comes to entitlement reforms.
“It puts us on a path that balances in 10 years — and since the Republican House just passed it, the Republican House should continue to pursue it. In fact, they should use that as leverage when it comes to raising the debt ceiling.”
And if the GOP does support tax increases on the wealthy, it’s going to have a fight on its hands with the Club for Growth, Chocola says.
“We would certainly fight as hard as we can against it — and we would make it very transparent who voted for it and supported it, and we would likely find some opportunities to challenge those lawmakers in the primaries.
“Frankly, the Republicans learned a lesson in the fiscal-cliff negotiations,” he adds, referring to the talks that ended with a deal early on New Year’s Day. “They clearly raised taxes. They didn’t get much for it.
“The country didn’t get much for it, because the president said if we only raise taxes on wealthy individuals, we’ll start to solve our deficit problems. What they did was they got something like $600 billion over 10 years, when we have an over $10 trillion projected deficit.
“Raising taxes doesn’t solve our problems,” Chocola tells Newsmax. “In fact, there’s no way you can raise taxes enough.
“You can confiscate the net worth of every single American: their car, their bank account, their home, everything they own — and you don’t even come close to meeting the promises we’ve made to current and future generations.
“Republicans understand that,” he adds. “They’ve learned a lesson, and I certainly hope they won’t go down that path.”
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