House Dems: It’s totally unfair to have a debate question on the deficit commission Obama created and then ignored
posted at 10:01 am on August 15, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
Man, I love the smell of panic in the morning … at least when it comes from the other side:
Some Democratic lawmakers want to make sure that one question does not get asked at the upcoming first presidential debate – about Simpson-Bowles.
Three Democratic House members objected Tuesday to a request by four senators that President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney be asked which of the commission’s proposals to address the debt they support. The Democrats said such a question would force “candidates to choose solutions from one menu of options.” …
But that caused Reps. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) to cry foul, writing in their own letter to the debate commission on Tuesday that although the Simpson-Bowles commission’s plan “may contain proposals helpful to our recovery…to hold it out as the only pathway to fiscal responsibility and economic success is foolish and wrong.”
“We urge the [Debate] Commission to fight any effort to unnecessarily narrow such an important debate by placing disproportionate attention on one set of proposals over another,” they wrote, adding that such a question would “cheapen the debate” and “thwart the candidates’ ability to explain alternative proposals.”
On the face of it, this is a ridiculous assertion. Asking one question about the Simpson-Bowles plan doesn’t restrict a range of answers on budget reforms and deficits. The moderators can ask other questions on the topic, and the candidates themselves can expand on those options in their answers to the Simpson-Bowles question. Ryan will almost certainly do so, since he served on the commission and passed his own version of budgetary reform in the House — twice.
But of course, this isn’t about the range of options in the debate. Democrats don’t want Barack Obama to have to answer for his total rejection of the commission he called into existence in the first place. Obama announced his grand plan to find consensus on the deficits after taking a beating on the massive deficits his budgets ran up, a few months before the midterm elections. He wanted to gain traction against the rising Tea Party by taking away one of the key fiscal arguments. When that plan failed, Obama completely ignored the recommendations from Simpson-Bowles even though the panel was a presidential advisory commission.
Part of this effort by Democrats to bury that history has been a new effort to get Erskine Bowles to repudiate his remarks from September 2011 praising Ryan while criticizing Obama and his budget. So far, Bowles isn’t budging:
Erskine Bowles is not backing away from his previous praise of Rep. Paul Ryan now that the Wisconsin congressman is on the Republican presidential ticket.
“I like him,” Bowles, the former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and co-chairperson of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, told The Daily Caller in a phone interview.
“I think he’s smart. I think he’s intellectually curious. I think he is honest, straightforward and sincere. And I think he does have a serious budget out there — it doesn’t mean I agree with it by any stretch of the imagination. But I’m not going to act like I don’t like him or that I don’t have some real respect for him.”
Looks like Bowles won’t be making a Cory Booker Hostage Video any time soon.