When President Barack Obama opened the first meeting of his fiscal commission last April, he promised to be “standing with them” as they produced recommendations for curbing the nation’s escalating debt. Republicans and Democrats say they are still waiting.Of course the president "fully supports" efforts to tackle the country's long-term budget problems, the White House assures us. He just doesn't want to be closely associated with said efforts at the moment because they represent a political minefield. Instead, he's more than content to offer up a mind-blogglingly irresponsible budget and lie like hell about it.
While Obama has said he’s committed to deficit reduction, he has also has made clear it is secondary, at least for now, to his “winning the future” agenda...
Obama’s reluctance to join the debate in a sustained way has provoked rising frustration among lawmakers from both parties, who are speaking more forcefully about what they view as his absenteeism on one of the most pressing issues before them.
Administration aides said Obama fully supports efforts to tackle the country’s long-term budget problems but that it is Washington — not the public — that is agitating for the president to wade into every legislative debate. This is a subtle shift in strategy from the past two years, when the president could be mistaken for a prime minister, expending much of his political capital in ushering bills through Congress.
In the eyes of deficit hawks, Obama has passed up several opportunities to push the issue to the center of his agenda.
He convened the fiscal commission last February, a move cast as an attempt to start an adult conversation about a metastasizing problem. It was quintessential Obama — the professor who likes to take the long view and serve up a bit of castor oil because it’s the right thing to do.
“Everything is on the table,” he said at the time. “That’s how this thing is going to work.”
When the commission chairmen offered their final recommendations in December, several months after Obama promised that he would be “standing with them,” the president declined to endorse the report, saying only that it was important work that he would study closely.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography