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President Obama establishes bipartisan debt commission

President Obama, Vice President Biden.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Earlier today, President Barack Obama established a bipartisan commission, which is expected to tackle fiscal problems associated with the nation’s roaring deficit. It will also review and consider a number of proposals aimed at reigning in the country’s national debt.

Will the commission support tax increases, spending cuts, Medicare or Social Security reform?  The president says, "Everything is on the table."  The commission is expected to make hard choices, as its goal is to bring the nation's annual deficits below 3% of the nations gross domestic product, or GDP.

The president signed an executive order that officially established the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.  Although the president's version will be notably weaker, the executive order will establish the same commission previously rejected by House and Senate congressional lawmakers.

The committee will be co-chaired by Democrat Erskine Bowles (former White House Chief of Staff under President Clinton) and Republican Alan Simpson (former Senator from Wyoming).

With the president’s job approval rating hovering at 50%, and with the Tea Party movement gaining strength and coherence, this move may help him regain some credibility with moderate and independent voters. The appointment of Simpson may even help the White House get support from some skeptical Republicans in the Congress. Yesterday, however, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he wasn’t sure if Republicans would be willing to appoint members to the commission based solely on Simpson’s appointment.  Republicans, who supported a debt comission, changed their position when President Obama declared his support for the proposal.

Surely the White House would welcome some support right now. For instance, President Obama and Vice President Biden marked the first “anniversary of his controversial economic stimulus plan” yesterday, “declaring the $862 billion package an unequivocal success that has created or saved millions of jobs.” Republicans, on the other hand, attacked the president’s claims, characterizing the stimulus plan “as a massive waste-filled Washington special-interest giveaway that expanded the deficit while failing to slow rising unemployment.”

Of course, this also comes at a time when congressional Republicans are attacking the president’s budget proposal, his healthcare initiative, and even congressional efforts to pass a jobs bill. Many Republicans, including area lawmakers from northeast Kansas (Lynn Jenkins) and northwest Missouri (Sam Graves) are criticizing the president’s actions, saying he is too committed to raising taxes, debt, and spending.  All of this has led sme to criticize the GOP as being the party of "No," but their strategy has succeeded so far, in preventing the president from achieving any notable victory.

As conservative, anti-Obama, Republicans continue to hijack the Democratic agenda on the grounds of fiscal responsibility, no one seems to be concerned with whether or not fiscal conservatism is even the right path to fiscal responsibility. All anyone can actually hear is that big government and big government spending are bad. If the liberal path isn’t right, and the conservative path isn’t right, then what are some progressive solutions to the country’s economic and fiscal woes?

For the answers to these questions read Progressivism 101:  Partisan approaches to fiscal responsibility, and Progressivism 101:  Fiscal progressivism.

Update:  This article was originally written on February 18th.  It appeared as the introduction to Progressivism 101:  Fiscal Responsibility, which was published on the same date.  You can read the rest of the article by clicking on one of the two Progressivism 101 links above this update.  Or, you may attempt to read the cached version of the complete, original article.


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