In just a little bit, 1:35 p.m., actually, President Obama will lay out his plan for deficit reduction. If you’ve read the papers you generally know what he’s going to say. The Post quotes a White House official saying, “The president will make clear that while we all share the goal of reducing our deficit and putting our nation back on a fiscally responsible path, his vision is one where we can live within our means without putting burdens on the middle class and seniors or impeding our ability to invest in our future.”
Okay, but what specifically should the president say to show that he’s serious about altering the nation’s red-ink-streaked trajectory? I put the question to my “Debt Council” — Jim Horney, Maya MacGuineas and Ryan McConaghy.
Jim Horney, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
“It is crucial to deal with the long-term deficit problem facing the United States, but it is equally crucial to deal with it in the right way — for instance, we must reduce the growth of Medicare costs by cutting the costs of providing health care to beneficiaries, not — as House Republicans are proposing — by increasing the cost of providing care but reducing federal spending by shifting a much greater share of those costs onto the backs of Medicare beneficiaries.”
Maya MacGuineas, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
“I ask my party to stop demagoguing Social Security and entitlement reform in general since changes have to be made to keep these programs from squeezing out other important priorities; I ask my friends across the aisle to recognize we need more revenues to close the fiscal gap, and to work with me on overhauling the tax code; and I ask the country to come together to put a plan in place this year — this debt threat is the single biggest economic threat facing the country and we need to come together to beat it.”
Ryan McConaghy, Third Way
“The deficit is a serious problem that we have to tackle by putting everything, from taxes to entitlements, on the table to make sure we can afford to invest in growth and maintain America’s economic leadership in the world. Each side is going to have to give in this debate, and we need to move past political non-starters to the one truly bipartisan game in town: the report of my Fiscal Commission that’s being crafted into legislation by the Gang of Six.”
We’ll find out shortly if Obama comes close to saying any of this. But my hope is that the president hues closer to MacGuiness. Time for some executive leadership — and muscle.