The president, we are told, was prepared to accept $3 trillion in reduced future spending for entitlements like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but the Tea Party caucus refused to let Boehner agree even to $1 trillion in “revenue enhancement.”
But here, a question arises: If the president believes entitlement reform is essential to get America’s deficit-debt crisis under control, why does he need Tea Party cover to do his duty?
He doesn’t. Tea Party intransigence on taxes is not the reason for Obama’s failure to cut spending. It is his excuse.
Indeed, if Obama announced tomorrow that he was going to cut future spending on entitlements by $3 trillion to restore our AAA credit rating, he would have the full support of the Tea Party.
His opposition would come from Kerry’s colleagues in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi’s in the House.
To see how absurd it is to blame Tea Party Republicans for the downgrading of America’s debt, imagine this scenario: Rep. Ron Paul is speaker of the House, Sen. Rand Paul is majority leader, and Rep. Paul Ryan is president of the United States.
Does anyone doubt this trio would restore the U.S credit rating in a New York minute? Every sacred cow in the federal pasture, from food stamps to foreign aid, would be hanging in the meat locker.
The American people have come to like the president, but a majority is coming to believe he is simply not the decisive president we need to lead us out of the morass in which he found the country and from which he has failed to extricate us.
“He made it worse!” is shaping up as the GOP slogan for 2012.
If Obama wishes to restore the AAA rating of his country, he might consider two separate and bold steps, both consistent with his professed beliefs.
First, tell the Republicans that if they will not agree to revenue enhancement, he will nonetheless do his duty and pare back spending in the entitlement programs. He would get instant GOP support.
Following this, he could go to the Republicans and tell them that if they agree to eliminate the clutter in the tax code—exemptions, loopholes, deductions—he will agree to cut tax rates for individuals and corporations alike, to make America more competitive.
Again, he would have the support of Republicans and the Tea Party. It might even advance his re-election prospects, if he could get renominated by his own party, which would rebel at both reforms because they would mean a suspension of the politics of tax and spend.
As for the S&P downgrade, again, the only surprise is it didn’t come sooner.
Daily updates with TM’s latest