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Send this Issue: Can Obama be the adultintheroom? to a friend.

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11/15/2010
Can Obama be the adultintheroom?

Good piece to ponder comes from Ruth Marcus over the weekend. A columnist I read, but not one I usually quote, as she definitely tilts to the left.
The predictably childish reactions of the left and right to the budget blueprint unveiled by the co-chairs of President Obama's debt commission offer the president a chance to play a role to which he may be uniquely suited: the grown-up in the room.
How can Obama be the adultinthe room when he’s always lecturing? Or whining? Or pandering? Indeed, it will take a whole tea boatload of courage to be the adultintheroom when we Americans want to lower taxes, make the government smaller and at the same time want the government to do everything for us.
This assignment, if he chooses to accept it, won't be easy. It would be politically perilous.… It will require intensive - let's be blunt, remedial - voter education about the necessary trade-offs. And this must, finally, be followed by presidential willingness to take the risk of laying out in detail what he believes those trade-offs should be, because the deficit commission isn't going to do it for him.
The president’s oratory skills are unquestioned, but I’m not so sure Obama has the true confidence – and experience – to lead.

Listen to pundits from both sides opining on the Bowles/Simpson report – Pelosi raged against it, others were contemplative, perhaps open to more discussion. They liked this, didn’t like that. The report is hard-hitting. Not all easy to swallow, a window into the austerity America must certainly go through. (And chances of the report getting the requisite 14 of 18 votes on the Commission are about nil.)

Marcus hits the nail on the head when she says someone must educate us out here in the hinterlands.
The time is ripe. Voters know instinctively… the country can't continue to live so far beyond its means. What they don't understand, because no politician has been willing to tell them straight out, is that fixing this situation counsels, if not mandates, a balanced approach of tax increases and spending cuts. The budget fairy isn't going to magically solve the problem by tucking a trillion or two under the national pillow.

This means telling each side what it doesn't want to hear. Conservatives must accept that tax increases need to be on the table to achieve fiscal stability, but be mollified that this change can be accomplished in a way that encourages economic growth. [Do I believe that??] Liberals must accept that promised entitlement benefits are not affordable and must be pared, but be assured that this adjustment can be done in a way that maintains or even enhances protections for the most vulnerable.

The country is, I think, mature enough to grasp that message….
I’m not so sure about that maturity business… but surely would love to be proved wrong. Marcus suggests 15-minute weekly seminars – available online and “Heck, invite dissenting guest lecturers - Professor Paul Ryan, the blackboard is yours - to make the opposing case.”
Because the more voters understand the unforgiving arithmetic of budget choices and the looming disaster that inaction invites, the more they will understand the childishness of the extremes on both sides. And the more they will crave and, ultimately, reward presidential leadership [Hmmm].
Co-teaching the class. Ryan’s certainly the guy to do it. I’m just not sure about the president, who during the health care “debate” I saw grandstanding, politicking and making sure he was in complete control. Nuts.

That aside, it’s your job and my job to get up to speed on this. Here’s 20 minutes of homework to get us all started. Well, ok, it could easily turn into hours and hours of homework. Is our country worth it?

Rep. Ryan is excited about the Bowles/Simpson report; here’s why.


From this weekend’s NY Times’ Week in Review, OK, you fix the budget.
The associated homework activity – Budget Puzzle, you fix the budget

Because it might not be wise to trust the NY Times as one’s only source on U.S. fiscal policy, here’s my piece on downsizing the federal deficit that includes a link to Wisconsinite and Heritage scholar Brian Riedl’s article detailing specific cuts.
Almost all of the proposed cuts in federal spending will provoke strong objections from constituencies that benefit from having Members of Congress give them taxpayer money taken from someone else. Yet the difficulties caused by each of these cuts should be measured against the status quo option of doubling the national debt over the next decade, risking an economic crisis, and drowning future generations in taxes.

Governing involves difficult choices, and Congress simply cannot continue to court long-term disaster for all merely to avoid short-term difficulties for some.
Ok everyone. It’s up to all of us to be adultsintheroom. And that means a whole lot more than just whining.

Jo Egelhoff, FoxPolitics.net






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