That’s the current national debt. To his credit, President Obama created a commission to look into reducing this fiscal nightmare when Congress failed to to so, but Thursday Obama skipped a meeting at the White House for his own commission:
President Obama did not attend a White House meeting Thursday with members of his own debt commission, irking some of the Democrats on the panel who were expecting a high-level push from the commander-in-chief to show that its comprehensive deficit reduction plan is being taken seriously by the White House.
“He should have at least dropped by,” one Democratic member of the debt commission told CNN, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he wanted to speak more freely about the panel’s private meeting.
A second senior Democratic aide close to the panel added that commission members were miffed and privately believe the President did not attend because it would have been awkward “given the fact that he has just endorsed $900 billion in deficit spending” with the tax cut deal.
After the White House meeting, Bowles and Simpson put out a joint statement urging the President to start negotiations with leaders in Congress early in January and put together a “comprehensive plan to restrain spending across the federal budget, enact broad-based tax reform that lowers rates and reduces the deficit, take steps to bring down health care costs, and make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years and beyond.”
Bowles and Simpson said the plan should be unveiled during the President’s State of the Union address, which is expected to happen in late January, and then both parties should cut a deal on deficit reduction before approving another increase in the federal debt limit.
The Commissioners could not be more clear in the dire need to address the debt than this summary:
“While no Commissioner supports every element of the Commission plan, the nation desperately needs a broad, bipartisan agreement on a plan that would get our debt under control and safeguard our economic future,” said the co-chairs. “Our businesses will not be able to grow and create jobs and our workers will not be able to compete without a strategy to get this crushing debt burden off our backs. If we fail to act today, we will be forcing far more difficult choices on the next generation. Neither party can fix this problem on its own, and both parties have a responsibility to do their part. Americans are counting on us to put politics aside, pull together not pull apart, and agree on a plan to live within our means and make America strong for the long haul.”
There is no more pressing issue facing our country than the national debt. And for those still perplexed by the rise of the Tea Party, you need look no further than this issue to find the true source of the movement. But regardless of political preferences, this debt affects all Americans – left and right, rich and poor, young and old. The Commissioners are right – we all need to work together and compromise in the best interests of our country.
By skipping this meeting, the President sent the exact wrong signal – that reducing the national debt is not his priority. Instead of creating a bi-partisan coalition to reduce the debt, it seems the President opted to create a bi-partisan coalition to increase it. If another $900 billion is the injury, then skipping the Deficit Commission meeting was the insult on top. Instead of taking the opportunity with this commission to create real change, the President has pretty much given us all a subtle middle finger.