Obama's Fiscal Conservatism

Schwartz Fellow Noam Scheiber, whose new book The Escape Artists follows President Obama's economic team as they deal with the financial crisis, ponders what the a second-term Obama would do when the Bush tax cuts expire.

Writing in the Daily Beast, Scheiber calls Obama a "true fiscal conservative" and suggests that despite his stated plan to preserve the tax cuts for families making less than $250,000, the president truly wants to allow the entire package of cuts to sunset to curb the deficit. Politically too, Scheiber points out, doing nothing and letting the cuts expire, is a more palatable option than a drawn-out fight with Congress:

Killing the entire zombie army of Bush tax breaks would be far, far easier than only slaying the upper-income portions. To pull off the former, Obama literally has to do nothing—the tax breaks are slated to expire on their own. To do the latter, he would have to pass legislation extending the middle-class elements. As a practical matter, that means rounding up majorities in the House and Senate, which seems unimaginable given the likely balance of power on Capitol Hill after the election.