All day long pundits and reporters have been reading the tea leaves. Will the president endorse the debt commission plan? Will he come up with his own plan? Or will he offer more platitudes? Unfortunately for those who would like to make progress on the budget, it probably will be the latter.
Greg Sargent sums up the view of Obama’s liberal base:
At the White House press briefing today, spokesman Jay Carney hinted that all the reporting out there today is wrong and insisted Obama’s vision would not be based solely on any particular plan.
“He has said very clearly that he supports the efforts of the so-called Gang of Six and others who are addressing these challenges in a very serious way,” Carney said. “That’s a healthy, good thing, and it’s reflective of the environment that was created by the president’s fiscal commission after it reported last year . . . He will provide his vision tomorrow.”
I could be wrong, but that sounds to me like the White House actively doesn’t want Obama’s eventual vision to be seen as anything but his own, despite commentary to the contrary. Obama intended the fiscal commission to start a conversation, not set his final blueprint for him. “It will be his,” Carney said.
Greg finds this “encouraging.” I find it depressing.
Obama has had months, actually two years, to put forth a detailed, specific budget to address long-term debt. He hasn’t. From all appearances, he is going to pronounce on general principles tomorrow: tax the rich, shared sacrifice, etc. This is meaningless, and at this stage unhelpful. It is as unhelpful, I would suggest, as the balanced-budget amendment. It is past the time for nice phrases and for dumping on the only specific plan out there (the House budget committee chairman’s).
If Obama doesn’t have a plan and is simply going to call on other to come up with one, what’s the point? (Other than to halt critics who have figured out he’s not leading on the most critical issue of our time.)
By being obtuse and nonspecific Obama allows his base to demagogue, insisting that Medicaid and Medicare can’t be cut or that our problems can be solved by hiking taxes to levels never proposed or enacted under any president.
Let’s see what he has to say. But absent a specific plan from the White House, I would suggest the House pass its budget and let Senate Republicans who have been keeping their powder dry put forth their own plans. Then we can at least see the contrast between the White House’s non-leadership and honest attempts at debt control.