This is a first step - at least the GOP is getting specific about how they would reduce the deficit, and many of the items seem ripe for pruning or removal. But it's also insane in many ways. In order to get a little more than half of Bowles-Simpson's savings, while leaving the real growth areas, entitlements and defense, alone, the GOP has to lay waste to discretionary spending in unprecedented fashion, while not altering our long-term prognosis more than a jot. They have restricted themselves, as Bruce Bartlett notes, to cutting from only 16 percent of total spending in 2009. If you have any clue about this country's finances, this is a joke. But even here, depressingly, the Democrats aren't biting:
Democrats have been needling Republicans for months over their inability to name specific programs to cut. Now, they argue, the Republicans have enumerated cuts that will absolutely slash away jobs -- federal workers, construction workers, and so on.
Christina Romer's plan to reduce the deficit is much more reality-based, because it goes to where the money is and also doesn't avoid the core issue of revenues. This, by the way, is exactly the Dish criterion for judging Obama's speech next Tuesday:
I am not talking about two paragraphs lamenting the problem and vowing to fix it. I am looking for pages and pages of concrete proposals that the administration is ready to fight for. The recommendations of the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that the president created are a very good place to start.
The need for such a bold plan is urgent both politically and economically. Voters made it clear last November that they were fed up with red ink. President Obama should embrace the reality that his re-election may depend on facing up to the budget problem.
As the recovery moves forward, the excuses for not tackling long-term debt are collapsing. Is Obama a president unafraid to tackle the truly hard issues rather than leave them to the next generation? We'll see Tuesday night. This is a moment of truth for the Dish's support of this president.
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