Geithner: Yeah, we don’t have a solution to the debt problem

posted at 1:55 pm on February 17, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Guy Benson calls this “the political quote of the year,” but it may be more like the defining moment of Obamanomics and Barack Obama’s fiscal policies.  Paul Ryan destroyed interim OMB chief Jeffrey Zients in testimony before Congress this week already, deconstructing White House claims to have $2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years when their contribution to that effort was only $400 billion, or roughly $40 billion a year.  In this five-minute clip, Ryan points out that the budget he proposed last year actually eliminated deficit spending over the long term, while the budget Obama proposed this week estimates escalating debt for decades to come.  When Ryan asked Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner why Obama isn’t even making an attempt to solve the long-term problem, Geithner responded with a moment of breathtaking — and shocking — honesty:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, speaking on behalf of the Obama White House, to Rep. Paul Ryan: “You are right to say we’re not coming before you today to say ‘we have a definitive solution to that long term problem.’  What we do know is, we don’t like yours.”

Guy sums this up well:

Those two sentences speak to a mentality so bereft of intellectual vigor, so stunningly and candidly shallow, so thoroughly irresponsible, so politically myopic, selfish, and cowardly, that it should disqualify this crew from a second term in office.  What a disgrace.  Remember this moment the next time Democrats accuse the GOP of being the “do nothing,” intransigent, “party of no.”

In fact, it’s about as perfect a representation of Obama’s economic policy as we’ll see.  The budget is full of short-term gimmicks to make it appear that the White House wants to close deficits, but it relies on tax increases and phony savings from projected war spending that wasn’t going to occur anyway to make the claim.  They do nothing at all about the structural problems of America’s long term economic issues (especially debt and unfunded liabilities from entitlement programs), but instead focus narrowly on relatively short-term outcomes to disguise the fact that they cannot and/or will not fix the long-term problems.  And as Geithner says in this response, while they won’t or can’t provide leadership, they will be happy to torpedo those who can and will — like Paul Ryan.

Make sure to store this moment in the memory banks.  The GOP will be using this clip for a very, very long time to come — along with the two charts Ryan shows during the exchange.  Even if Obama’s budget wasn’t already DOA in Congress, Geithner just killed it.  He also stuck a stake through the heart of Obama’s strategy of using it as a campaign platform to hit Republicans, and the backfire from it will last all year.


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