Not only has President Obama previously skipped meetings with his own Deficit Commission, he’s skipped over their findings and recommendations:
Sure, Erskine Bowles, the commission’s Democratic chair, and Alan Simpson, the Republican, made some nice public statement about Obama’s deficit-reduction plan after they met with him yesterday — one day after the president unveiled his scheme to miraculously cut $4 trillion without reining in the looming catastrophes of Medicare and other entitlements. But people I spoke to in corporate America got a more unvarnished reaction in private from the debt-committee chieftains.
“What these guys can’t understand is how Obama can ask them to come up with something, and then he doesn’t listen to what they proposed,” a Wall Street executive who knows both men well told me a few hours after the president’s address on Wednesday.
More: “Erskine and Alan have been working both sides of the aisle trying to get people interested — and then the guy who appointed them basically ignores what they said.”
Say what you want about Bowles/Simpson’s solutions — living in high-tax New York, I was offended when Simpson said I needed to “sacrifice” more with higher taxes to fix the nation’s fiscal mess. But the commission clearly saw the problem right: The huge explosion in spending on such entitlements as Medicare is as much a threat to our economy as our reliance on Mideast oil; we need to find a way to pay for those programs or cut them down to size.
The Republicans were willing to listen to them: Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan, released last week, follows the commission in proposing major tax reform — closing loopholes, lowering rates and using some of the savings to balance the federal books.
Yet the president appears to forget he ever appointed a bipartisan commission to deal with the nation’s fiscal issues. In fact, his tone Wednesday was highly partisan, as if runaway spending was just a right-wing boogeyman.
Of course, his “calculations” are pure fantasy. He offered no real details as to how his $4 trillion in “cuts” might be achieved, and he stretched them out over more than a decade. Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that we can afford all the big government programs already in action, not to mention ObamaCare, just by raising taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” who make $250,000 a year.
I don’t believe it — and neither, I’m told, do the people who run Obama’s deficit commission.
They’re correct. There are simply not enough “rich” people to cover the shortages, and Washington needs to rethink how the federal government spends as much as rethinking the tax code. (Incidentally, instituting the Fair Tax would double revenue to Social Security and Medicare/caid.) In my opinion, this is a very bad indicator that the President isn’t interested in leading on fiscal issues, but is interested in maintaining unsustainable programs and policies. If that’s the case, then the Deficit Commission was a farce from its inception.