Obama’s campaign derided Romney’s business experience (something Obama may now regret), but the president can make amends by asking Romney to join this national effort. For his part, Romney may have his own regrets about the tone of the campaign — and may have a desire to make a genuine contribution to solve a problem on which he campaigned. This is his chance to set aside his rhetoric — he can’t really believe that the deficit can be solved with zero new revenue, including from individuals as wealthy as he is, and he has to leave behind the man who declined in the Republican primaries to even contemplate a deficit-reduction package that was nine parts spending-reduction to one part revenue-raising. Instead, he can be the man who built companies and pragmatically parsed their business plans to both cut costs and raise revenue — and brought them back to health.

It would be unfair for Obama to ask Romney to take on the burden of crafting a bipartisan plan on his own. So Obama should also turn to the last president to balance a budget and preside over a booming economy: Bill Clinton.

Clinton said at the Democratic convention in Charlotte that the secret of his budgetary success was simple: “Arithmetic.” He should bring his basic math skills, and his considerable political skills, to the table to help craft a solution to deficit reduction that creates jobs and doesn’t stifle them. The man who could find bipartisan compromise with House Speaker Newt Gingrich can surely do so with a fellow Ivy League lawyer who also governed a state whose electorate was of a decidedly different political color.