C’mon. Admit it. When the White House announced earlier this week that the Prez was going to outline his views on federal spending and deficit reduction you had some concerns. No, not about the details. But whether or not he was going to preempt American Idol.
Well, the Prez opined yesterday afternoon at George Washington University in D.C. and by the time the American Idol wannabes appeared on stage his plan had already been sliced and diced by the TV Talking Heads and related pundits and Inside the Beltway miscreants.
We’re now a nation of born-again budget cutters and deficit reducers. The questions are how deep the cuts, to what programs and how quickly. And yeah. There’s that sticky point about taxes. The Prez is OK with hiking taxes on the wealthy. The Republicans — and conservative Democrats who want to be reelected — say no way. And wasn’t that the issue where the Prez and the Dems raised the white flag during the lame-duck session of Congress a few months ago? I digress.
Anyway, the debate over these issues is important, timely and necessary — and it will frame the national and state elections in 2012.
Here’s from an article in the NYT, “Obama’s Debt Plan Sets Stage for Long Battle Over Spending“:
President Obama made the case Wednesday for slowing the rapid growth of the national debt while retaining core Democratic values, proposing a mix of long-term spending cuts, tax increases and changes to social welfare programs as his opening position in a fierce partisan budget battle over the nation’s fiscal challenges.
After spending months on the sidelines as Republicans laid out their plans, Mr. Obama jumped in to present an alternative and a philosophical rebuttal to the conservative approach that will reach the House floor on Friday. Republican leaders were working Wednesday to round up votes for that measure and one to finance the government for the rest of the fiscal year.
Mr. Obama said his proposal would cut federal budget deficits by a cumulative $4 trillion over 12 years, compared with a deficit reduction of $4.4 trillion over 10 years in the Republican plan. But the president said he would use starkly different means, rejecting the fundamental changes to Medicare and Medicaid proposed by Republicans and relying in part on tax increases on affluent Americans.
The president framed his proposal as a balanced alternative to the Republican plan, setting the stage for a debate that will consume Washington in coming weeks, as the administration faces off with Congress over raising the national debt ceiling, and into next year, as the president runs for re-election.
And with the stakes this high it’s understandable that the Prez wants a strong manager to lead the team. Again, from the NYT:
Mr. Obama named Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to lead the negotiations with Congress, which the administration hopes will produce the outlines of a deal by the end of June, though a detailed agreement might have to await the outcome of the 2012 election. Mr. Biden played a similar role in talks that averted a government shutdown at the 11th hour, over issues far less thorny than those on the table now.
And yet it appears that VP Joe reacted to Obama’s remarks yesterday in much the same way as the American public: With a big yawn.
Here’s from The Huffington Post, “Was Joe Biden Sleeping During Obama’s Speech?“:
Did Vice President Joe Biden fall asleep while President Barack Obama delivered a speech on his administration’s plans for tackling the national debt on Wednesday?
ABC News released video of Biden attending the event held at George Washington University early in the afternoon. In the clip, the vice president appears to doze off while the president is speaking on the financial issue.
National Journal notes that if Biden did in fact nod off during the president’s remarks, it seems that he wouldn’t be the first member of the Obama administration to do so. In 2009, then-chief economics adviser to the president, Larry Summers, was caught snoozing in a picture taken by a Getty photographer during a meeting on the economic crisis.
OK. It’s hard for me to criticize the Veep on this one. I’ve been there Joe. And done that.
But hey. At least yesterday I made it right to the start of American Idol.