Obama suddenly rediscovers his deficit commission

posted at 10:55 am on April 12, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Old and busted: “a framework for a conversation.”  New hotness: Deficit commission plans as policy.  In his sudden desire to play defense against Rep. Paul Ryan and avoid the leadership vacuum that has plagued the White House on budgets and deficits, Obama has reached into his wastebasket to breathe new life into a plan that his team dismissed in February as merely a conversation piece:

President Obama plans this week to respond to a Republican blueprint for tackling the soaring national debt by promoting a bipartisan approach pioneered by an independent presidential commission rather than introducing his own detailed plan.

Obama will not blaze a fresh path when he delivers a much-anticipated speech Wednesday afternoon at George Washington University. Instead, he is expected to offer support for the commission’s work and a related effort underway in the Senate to develop a strategy for curbing borrowing. Obama will frame the approach as a responsible alternative to the 2012 plan unveiled last week by House Republicans, according to people briefed by the White House.

Letting others take the lead on complex problems has become a hallmark of the Obama presidency. On health care, last year’s tax deal and the recent battle over 2011 spending cuts, Obama has repeatedlywaited as others set the parameters of the debate, swooping in late to cut a deal. The tactic has produced significant victories but exposed Obama to criticism that he has shown a lack of leadership.

That’s a polite way of saying that this President doesn’t seem terribly interested in policy or hard work.  Obama could have grabbed the mantle of deficit reform by using the commission’s report to build his FY2012 budget request.  After all, the Simpson-Bowles panel was his creation.  Instead, Obama offered the usual spend-and-spend-some-more budget two months ago and junked the commission report, drawing derision even from his supporters in the national media.

Falling back to Simpson-Bowles makes sense for Obama in some ways.  It has more bipartisan heft, for one thing, than his earlier plan, which had almost no credibility at all. Having ceded the initiative to Ryan, Obama needs to find a way to start looking like a leader again, and the Simpson-Bowles plan has some good ideas in it — some of which are in Ryan’s plan, too.  He needs more political cover for tax increases he’ll propose, and Obama doesn’t want to stand alone on that platform with a re-election campaign starting.

Having said all that, it doesn’t exactly look like leadership to fish a report out of the trash and call it a new idea.  If Obama thinks that Simpson-Bowles was so terrific, why did he round-file it two months ago and issue a budget request that almost entirely refuted it?  And why should anyone believe he’d stick with the cuts Simpson-Bowles demands after giving it that vote of no confidence in February?


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It is not Obama’s nature to tackle an issue head-on…
He will keep nibbling around the edges…

mjbrooks3 on April 12, 2011 at 10:57 AM

Firewall.

Count to 10 on April 12, 2011 at 10:58 AM

There is only one word to describe this administration…pathetic.

bopbottle on April 12, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Mara Liason on Special Report brought this up last night. Either she’s incredibly insightful, or the White House is once again sending up a trial balloon to it’s media arm, NPR.

BKeyser on April 12, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Hell talk the talk and that’s about it

cmsinaz on April 12, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Progressives/socialists/communists are masters of subterfuge.

It’s the only way they can advance their heinous agenda.

darwin on April 12, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Instead, Obama offered the usual spend-and-spend-some-more budget two months ago and junked the commission report, drawing derision even from his supporters in the national media.

The Republicans better tag him hard on this or they’re screwed… Obama is making a good move here and if the GOP can’t let him pivot without cost.

ninjapirate on April 12, 2011 at 11:02 AM

It is not Obama’s nature to tackle an issue head-on…
He will keep nibbling around the edges…
mjbrooks3 on April 12, 2011 at 10:57 AM

More like a mouse waiting for a juicy bit to hit the floor.

BobMbx on April 12, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Get ready for it: The Democrats have done the same thing over and over. They get the Republicans to agree to a mix of tax increases and spending cuts and then implement the tax increases without implementing the spending cuts. Hopefully this time the Tea Partiers won’t let the Republicans take the bait.

xrayiiis on April 12, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Gee, it is almost as if democrats thought 2010 was a fluke and America didn’t really mean they wanted government to live within it’s means, or even shrink just a little bit(GASP!).

They figured that they could just call for more of the same and Demonize the new GOP majority in the house. It didn’t work out so well, so they want to try and jump on the bandwagon….but THEY will be responsible about cutting government unlike those extremist teabaggers.

verdict: messaging FAIL. Democrats are chasing the rest of the country while claiming to LEAD.

Mord on April 12, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Obama, Yes, I can diver.

tinkerthinker on April 12, 2011 at 11:04 AM

The Republicans better tag him hard on this or they’re screwed… Obama is making a good move here and if the GOP can’t let him pivot without cost.

BTW, the GOP did a terrible job during the budget fight tagging the Dems with the fact they could/should have passed a budget last year…

The communication structure for the GOP has completely broke down… you guys have to force things until the media itself accepts the narrative… the GOP isn’t doing that in a methodological manner… where is the coordination?

ninjapirate on April 12, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Does anyone find Alan Simpson as irritating as I do? Seems like he is constantly trying work in a clever little soundbite with his stupid little jokes.

jake-the-goose on April 12, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Maybe it is an idea to look at the Federal budgeting as a process?
Hint: if you don´t use up this years budget your next year´s budget will be less.
I wonder how much money get wasted for this reason alone?

gullxn on April 12, 2011 at 11:05 AM

The ONLY reason Obama is dusting this sorry report off is because it has a LOT of Tax INCREASES in it. PERIOD.

karenhasfreedom on April 12, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Letting others take the lead on complex problems has become a hallmark of the Obama presidency.

Yep, “Smartest Man in the World”. You betcha’!

GarandFan on April 12, 2011 at 11:05 AM

I only saw half the title. I thought it was going to say birth certificate.

Oil Can on April 12, 2011 at 11:05 AM

President Obama plans this week to respond to a Republican blueprint for tackling the soaring national debt by promoting a bipartisan approach pioneered by an independent presidential commission rather than introducing his own detailed plan.

Showing once again, that you can’t translate a community organizer into the job of President. He’s a clueless baffoon, who has no idea…not one, on what the hell he’s doing.

capejasmine on April 12, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Gee, it is almost as if democrats thought 2010 was a fluke and America didn’t really mean they wanted government to live within it’s means, or even shrink just a little bit(GASP!).

Mord on April 12, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Obama’s not going to let a little thing like a historic defeat in the midterms slow down his implementation of the Cloward-Piven strategy.

Kataklysmic on April 12, 2011 at 11:06 AM

A little dumpster diving

Heh

cmsinaz on April 12, 2011 at 11:07 AM

Doc Zero’s latest column:

Obama: Message Received, I’ll Raise Your Taxes by John Hayward

The Democrats only have one idea.

We are entering a great debate about the proper size and scope of government. At its heart, this is a debate about power, not just money.

We should not be willing to grant the government any more power to decide who “deserves” to keep how much money, and who is “entitled” to the fruit of other peoples’ labor.

Making government smaller involves reducing its level of control over our lives. That includes its spending, regulatory power, and ability to wage class warfare through increasingly steep “progressive” taxation.

Galt2009 on April 12, 2011 at 11:07 AM

Obama needs to find a way to start looking like a leader again

I wonder if he has ever considered actually leading?

Nah.

iurockhead on April 12, 2011 at 11:07 AM

They need to start from scratch and determine WHAT the feds are really SUPPOSED to do and just fund that and drop the rest. Why don’t they try THIS?

karenhasfreedom on April 12, 2011 at 11:08 AM

to develop a strategy for curbing borrowing

Who in the world is that term coming from? The White House or the Orwellian WashPo writer?

strictnein on April 12, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Letting others take the lead on complex problems has become a hallmark of the Obama presidency. On health care, last year’s tax deal and the recent battle over 2011 spending cuts, Obama has repeatedlywaited as others set the parameters of the debate, swooping in late to cut a deal.

As I recall, during his Presidential campaign it was pointed out that he did this repeatedly to his colleagues in the Senate – chime in like a glory hound at the last minute.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matt 7:20)

ss396 on April 12, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Thanks for linky galt

cmsinaz on April 12, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Simpson-Bowles is a non-starter for at least one major reason: it does away with the tax deduction for mortgage interest. The housing market is already on its knees due to the large number of foreclosures when Fannie and Freddie were forced to make loans to insolvent borrowers. If the tax deduction for mortgage interest is removed, the net cost of repaying a mortgage could increase by 20 to 30%, and force millions of currently-solvent homeowners into default.

Steve Z on April 12, 2011 at 11:12 AM

To be honest, neither the Ryan plan nor the Simpson-Bowles plan cuts our deficit, let alone our outstanding debt, quickly enough. However, the conversation is definitely moving in the right direction – even Pres. Obama must now endorse a plan that includes significant spending cuts. And for that much, Rep. Ryan is due our thanks.

Inkblots on April 12, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Unfortunately a large segment of the public is out to lunch, only casually observing what is going on, and they fall for Obama’s lies time and time again. It never enters their consciousness that the President of the United States, and the entire Democratic Party and MSM are engaged in a campaign of deception and lies.

Hopefully there are not enough of these people to put Obama over the top in 2012.

xrayiiis on April 12, 2011 at 11:13 AM

“Mr President, if you wanted Simpson-Bowles plan why didn’t you tout that during your

Simpson-Bowles is a non-starter for at least one major reason: it does away with the tax deduction for mortgage interest.

It’s not a matter of “if” but “when” that evil policy is repealed…

ninjapirate on April 12, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Having said all that, it doesn’t exactly look like leadership to fish a report out of the trash and call it a new idea. If Obama thinks that Simpson-Bowles was so terrific, why did he round-file it two months ago and issue a budget request that almost entirely refuted it?

He has a new WH chief of staff who is clearly talking some sense into him. Daley is trying to get Obama some do-overs here. Rahm was already on his way out the door when the Commission issued its report and Peter Orszag had left a vacuum at OMB too. There was nobody in charge of economic or budget policy at that time. They are belatedly trying to get their act together. Not an excuse, but an explanation.

And why should anyone believe he’d stick with the cuts Simpson-Bowles demands after giving it that vote of no confidence in February?

Beats me, but the media are sure to fall all over him and will probably cover this like the deficit commission was all Obamna’s idea and it just delivered the report. Never understimate how much they will lie and spin to protect their boyfriend.

rockmom on April 12, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Obama only wants to give the appearance of working hard and being involved in solving the problem. It’s all about appearances with this guy. He never tells you what he really wants. People who know better see through him, but there are way too many people who don’t know better.

xrayiiis on April 12, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Whoops…

“Mr President, if you wanted Simpson-Bowles plan why didn’t you tout that during your WTF speech?

This is the time to mock Obama on leadership… seriously, go right at Obama’s leadership capabilities.

ninjapirate on April 12, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Simpson-Bowles is a non-starter for at least one major reason: it does away with the tax deduction for mortgage interest.

Steve Z on April 12, 2011 at 11:12 AM

I count that as a point in its favor. It is long past time the government stopped distorting the free market by encouraging indebtedness and overinvestment in housing through preferential tax treatment for mortgage debt.

Inkblots on April 12, 2011 at 11:19 AM

LOSER!

golfmann on April 12, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Simpson-Bowles is a non-starter for at least one major reason: it does away with the tax deduction for mortgage interest. The housing market is already on its knees due to the large number of foreclosures when Fannie and Freddie were forced to make loans to insolvent borrowers. If the tax deduction for mortgage interest is removed, the net cost of repaying a mortgage could increase by 20 to 30%, and force millions of currently-solvent homeowners into default.

Steve Z on April 12, 2011 at 11:12 AM

They’ll never cut the deduction for current mortgagors. But they could propose eliminating it gradually in future years. It does distort the housing market and has unequivocally produced overinvestment in housing and overleveraging of homeowners.

Will be fun watching NAR and NAHB going into panic mode.

rockmom on April 12, 2011 at 11:20 AM

I find it very interesting that the President would even mention the Commissions plan before the elections since he will be, essentially, running on a platform of both doubling down on Obamacare, and seeking an extraordinary net tax increase that would, in the process, eliminate favorable tax deductions.

Indy82 on April 12, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Obama is treating the Ryan Budget like it was garlic or wolfbane, or something…

WE are at the crossroads, folks, and CANNOT LOSE THIS BATTLE!

Khun Joe on April 12, 2011 at 11:20 AM

If Obama thinks that Simpson-Bowles was so terrific, why did he round-file it two months ago and issue a budget request that almost entirely refuted it?

Because he didn’t have Paul Ryan’s ass plan to kick at the time??

Intentions

ted c on April 12, 2011 at 11:22 AM

The Professional Left was calling it “the cat food commission” before it was unveiled because they were deciding who would be left eating cat food.

So now Obama is giving the Professional Left the choice between his cat food or Ryan’s dog food.

Political momentum never tasted so good.

Mr Snuggle Bunny on April 12, 2011 at 11:24 AM

F’ing Dope.

Tim_CA on April 12, 2011 at 11:25 AM

It’s true most people are asleep politically. After all, they have things to do that are more important to their daily lives then keep track of politicians. But all that means is that the missed all the spin coming from the MSM on why Obama is doing a terrific job. When 2012 rolls around, they’ll wake up and ask, “so what have you done that deserves our support” and to that question there is no answer. So if the Republicans run a decent candidate and if there is no third party candidate, Obama is in BIG trouble.

Fred 2 on April 12, 2011 at 11:27 AM

He needs more political cover for tax increases he’ll propose

I am a bit surprised it took this long for a lib/dem/marx/prog president to jack up taxes.

It’s a SPENDING problem, NOT a revenue problem. Taxation will not solve this no matter how high they go.

sarc
Don’t these harvard types know anything about the real world?
/sarc

maineconservative on April 12, 2011 at 11:32 AM

There’s no way little Bammie can fill the “leadership vacuum that has plagued the White House”, because he is incapable of leadership. Leadership is not something he can turn on when Assholrod decides that it’s time, and is not something that can be put into a teleprompter. Some people have it and some don’t, and little Bammie doesn’t.

slickwillie2001 on April 12, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Wait a second. Paul Ryan was on that commission. Either way it’s a win-win for Ryan. Bwahaahahahaha!!!
Barry has been pwned!

mizflame98 on April 12, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Wonder what the Enema Man and Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dog would have to say on the matter?

cktheman on April 12, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Zero better be careful with raising taxes with $5 gas going to be here in a month or so this blazing economy it is going to pass the recession stage and hit depression.

I still don’t hear any talk about the gas prices really. I think the next thing that’s going to happen after raising the debt ceiling is more QE. from the treasury and fed.

Brat4life on April 12, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Obama will not blaze a fresh path when he delivers a much-anticipated speech Wednesday afternoon at George Washington University.

Blaze a path?!!!!

This clown needs an illustrated instruction manual just to light a fart!

pilamaye on April 12, 2011 at 11:40 AM

This clown needs an illustrated instruction manual just to light a fart!

pilamaye on April 12, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Funny how different perceptions can be from one person to another.

I think fart-lighting is something Obama may do quite well. Based on his record (that we are privy to), it may even be a high point for him.

Chauncey Gardner lives!

BobMbx on April 12, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Maybe it is an idea to look at the Federal budgeting as a process?
Hint: if you don´t use up this years budget your next year´s budget will be less.
I wonder how much money get wasted for this reason alone?

gullxn on April 12, 2011

We do that now. Pretty much every year you can find a story somewhere about some agency shoveling money out the door the last few days of September because they fear spending one dime less than was appropriated will cost them money in the next budget.

The goal has to be (a) identify the things we can’t afford & get rid of them; and (b) become more efficient at doing the things we have to have done.

My guess – 85-90% of the fight is going to be over “a”: we simply can’t afford to do everything, choices have to be made, even if it means some “good” things go undone because we’re spending the money that’s available on “better” things.

Problem is, we’re asking people who are afraid of making anyone unhappy to make the decisions.

BD57 on April 12, 2011 at 11:59 AM

no no no. This is his real budget. The other one was just a placeholder. Waffles, anyone?

As much as conservatives believe Obama is running straight out of the liberal playbook, if I was a lib I’d be mad at my guy’s flip-flopping.

hawksruleva on April 12, 2011 at 12:04 PM

If Obama thinks that Simpson-Bowles was so terrific, why did he round-file it two months ago and issue a budget request that almost entirely refuted it?

It’s simple. It’s called the art of negotiation. Had he proposed Simpson-Bowles as his 2012 budget, the ultimate outcome would fall somewhere between it and Ryan’s plan. Now Simpson-Bowles looks like the middle ground between his budget and Ryan’s (which it is), and therefore has a better chance of getting passed by both houses.

underceij on April 12, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Leadership is not something he can turn on when Assholrod decides that it’s time, and is not something that can be put into a teleprompter. Some people have it and some don’t, and little Bammie doesn’t.

slickwillie2001 on April 12, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Well said. I suppose you could argue that voters couldn’t be sure if O was a leader or not, given his limited prior experience. But what did he ever take the lead on? When did Obama ever take a controversial position and stick to it?

hawksruleva on April 12, 2011 at 12:08 PM

It’s simple. It’s called the art of negotiation. Had he proposed Simpson-Bowles as his 2012 budget, the ultimate outcome would fall somewhere between it and Ryan’s plan. Now Simpson-Bowles looks like the middle ground between his budget and Ryan’s (which it is), and therefore has a better chance of getting passed by both houses.

underceij on April 12, 2011 at 12:05 PM

So he knew Ryan was coming out with his budget two months later and that it would be severe cuts that he could then play against the plan he was at the time rejecting? really?

WitchDoctor on April 12, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Ed, this deserves a thread in The New Era of Civility and a comparison to Palin’s crosshairs election map meme:

http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2011/04/12/house-democrats-plan-introduce-alternative-2012-budget

“The House Republicans plan to play a game of political chicken and put the full faith and credit of the United States at risk,” Van Hollen said, “that’s like playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded revolver.” — Rep Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), standing in front of the Center for American Progress banner. Video Shown on Happening Now in a story about the upcoming debt ceiling battle. This is disgusting.

Mr_Magoo on April 12, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Sorry. I meant upcoming budget battle… Still disgusting.

Mr_Magoo on April 12, 2011 at 12:29 PM

It doesn’t matter in the court of public opinion what the Republicans say or what Obama says. The MSM will always say the Republicans lose and Obama wins. Facts should be the focus not narrative because we will never “win the narrative.” Perfect example: Reagan was President and had a Democratic Congress and when there were shutdowns, it was the President’s fault. Clinton was President and had a Republican Congress, when there was a shutdown it was the Congress’s fault. Cut spending, narrative be dam@ed.

txmomof6 on April 12, 2011 at 12:36 PM

strategy for curbing borrowing

The new code word (phrase) of the day. It means raise taxes.

J_Crater on April 12, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Every day the Ones priorities become clearer and clearer.

Sleep until @ 10am. Spend a couple hours voting present and blaming others. Golf rest of the day. Host cocktail parties M-F nights. Vacation on weekends and every 3rd week.

shanimal on April 12, 2011 at 12:46 PM

leadership vacuum that has plagued the White House on

everything.

paulsur on April 12, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Dumpster in Chief

Schadenfreude on April 12, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Forget the birth certificate, I want to see Obama’s college grades. There’s no way someone this dense and ignorant was a good student, unless they dumbed down classes and gave him a sympathy pass.

What courses did he take? Community Organizing 101? Because he certainly didn’t take history, economics or math.

Common Sense on April 12, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Letting others take the lead on complex problems has become a hallmark of the Obama presidency.

Understatement, to say the least. In fact, this sounds like a deliberately passive-voice restatement to avoid saying the obvious: that Obama always avoids anything that’s hard or risky.

IOW, President Present Strikes Again!

tom on April 12, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Cohen mad at Obama

The cliche of late has been the trope about “getting ahead of history.” Wonderful. I would settle for Obama just catching up with himself.

Schadenfreude on April 12, 2011 at 3:14 PM

My fear is that Obama will fool the middle into thinking he is serious about cutting government… if he wins re-election nothing will stop the socialist transformation. All Obama has to do is pretend for 18 months.

Hopefully, he will be so transparent in his pretending that people won’t be fooled. But this is dangerous ground.

petunia on April 12, 2011 at 3:18 PM

He’s trying to steal Ryan’s thunder by subtly reminding people that Ryan’s wasn’t the first plan, and that Ryan voted against the DefComm recs (for accepting Obamacare as the status quo, as I recall, notwithstanding its promise that everything was on the table); newsrooms across America are already buzzing with ideas about how to sell that narrative and how to conceal Obama’s own shabby treatment of the DefComm recs.

DrSteve on April 12, 2011 at 3:34 PM

There is only one polite word to describe this administration…pathetic.

bopbottle on April 12, 2011 at 10:59 AM

FIFY. There are plenty of other words. Some may activate the ban hammer…

karl9000 on April 12, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Forget the birth certificate, I want to see Obama’s college grades. There’s no way someone this dense and ignorant was a good student, unless they dumbed down classes and gave him a sympathy pass.

What courses did he take? Community Organizing 101? Because he certainly didn’t take history, economics or math.

Common Sense on April 12, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Double-A at work. No need to dumb down classes, he just had his exams marked and degrees awarded under different standards. Happens to millions of Americans.

Re Columbia, supposedly he got a B.A. from them, but who knows what he took. Anyone know his major? Was he really in Columbia or was it one of their associated schools?

Re history, economics and math, there’s an enormous hole in his K-12 from his years in Indonesia and at the touchy-feely basket-weaving school in Hawaii. He had a private tutor/babysitter that taught him Marxism real well though.

slickwillie2001 on April 12, 2011 at 3:45 PM