Obama on Harsh Deficit Panel Draft: ‘Listen’ Before ‘Shooting Down’

November 11, 2010

(ChattahBox Political News)— Americans have listened and they are not impressed. In response to an unexpected power-play by the co-chairmen of the deficit commission, releasing a draft report consisting of a slew of draconian hodgepodge proposals, not endorsed by panel members, President Obama is urging lawmakers to refrain from “shooting down” the harsh recommendations before the commission releases a final report in December. Why did co-chairmen Alan Simpson, former Republican Senator from Wyoming and Erskine Bowles, former Chief of Staff to President Clinton, go rogue as it were? Most likely because, the commission is unable to drum up the required 14 votes to issue a final report, and Bowles and Erskine certainly don’t have support for their skunk of a draft report. So, the co-chairmen are trying to control the parameters of any final proposals. Will their stunt work? Let’s hope not.

Hopefully, Bowles and Simpson’s smorgasbord of cost-cutting ideas will anger both Republicans and Democrats equally, so that the the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform will retire without coming to a consensus.

In response to the uproar, Obama released a statement from Seoul.

“Before anybody starts shooting down proposals, I think we need to listen, we need to gather up all the facts,” Obama told reporters.

“If people are, in fact, concerned about spending, debt, deficits and the future of our country, then they’re going to need to be armed with the information about the kinds of choices that are going to be involved, and we can’t just engage in political rhetoric,” Obama added.

The President said he wants to give the panel members space to vote on a final report. Commission members “are trying to round up 14 votes for certain aspects of the recommendations, and I want to make sure that they’ve got the room and the space to do so,” he said.

Earlier, the White House issued a statement, saying the draft report was just the first step in a long process.

“The President will wait until the bipartisan fiscal commission finishes its work before commenting. He respects the challenging task that the Co-Chairs and the Commissioners are undertaking and wants to give them space to work on it. These ideas, however, are only a step in the process towards coming up with a set of recommendations and the President looks forward to reviewing their final product early next month,” said White House spokesperson, Bill Burton.

Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka and others are condemning the draft report, with its cuts in Social Security and Medicare, as an unacceptable assault on seniors and the struggling middle class.

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein has an interesting take on Simpson and Bowles’ draft report.

“The co-chairmen have some interesting policy ideas for how to balance the budget, but as of yet, they’ve not made any discernible progress on the political deadlock preventing us from balancing the budget. And it’s the deadlock, not the policy questions, that they were asked to solve.”

Indeed. How does throwing a bunch of unrelated cost-cutting ideas against a wall to see what sticks offer real solutions to balancing our budget?

Stay tuned for more on this discussion.

Photo Source: White House


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