Obama’s Debt Plan: Those Other Dudes’ Debt Plan

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Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Tomorrow afternoon, President Obama will enter the debt-reduction debate when he gives a speech at George Washington University, offering up his own plan to counter that of Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan. And by "own plan," we mean he's reportedly going to get behind the Senate's bi-partisan Gang of 6 — three Democrats and three Republicans who have been working for months to craft legislation based around the recommendations by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also known as the Simpson-Bowles Commission. As the Washington Post reports:


Obama will not blaze a fresh path when he delivers a much-anticipated speech Wednesday afternoon at George Washington University. Instead, he is expected to offer support for the commission’s work and a related effort underway in the Senate to develop a strategy for curbing borrowing. Obama will frame the approach as a responsible alternative to the 2012 plan unveiled last week by House Republicans, according to people briefed by the White House.

Backing the Gang of 6 will give Obama plenty of bi-partisan cover, something he always would prefer but which is especially vital on the prickly issues of entitlement and tax reform. But doing so would also mean that, for now, Obama still doesn't have a debt plan to speak of, since the Gang of 6 hasn't even finished its work yet:

“It’d be pretty hard for [Obama] to hitch himself to something that doesn’t exist yet,” [Gang member Tom] Coburn said. “There’s nothing I’ve agreed to that could be announced this week.”

Meanwhile, the Times warns that Obama's very support could taint the Gang's proposals, turning them, in the eyes of Republicans, into Obama's latest socialist assault on freedom:

People familiar with the Senate group said Mr. Obama’s entry into the fiscal debate could upset the senators’ fragile unity. If the effort becomes associated with him before there is a deal, they say, it could provoke such conservative opposition that Republican lawmakers will shy away.

Apparently, a bi-partisan plan automatically gets cooties once Obama touches it. Congress really is a kindergarten for old men.

Senators Surprised by Obama’s Entry Into Fiscal Debate [NYT]
Obama turns to his bipartisan deficit commission’s blueprint for reducing debt [WP]