Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Friedman: Both Candidates "Not Romney"

Thomas Friedman takes both President Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney to task for insufficient plans to address the budget deficit in The New York Times.

What do we need from a presidential candidate today? We need a credible plan to do three specific things: cut, tax and invest. As the economy improves, we need to cut spending, including all entitlement programs, to fix our long-term structural deficit. We also need to raise revenue through tax reform so we don’t just shred our safety nets and so we still have resources, not only for defense, but to invest in all the things that have made us great as a country: education, infrastructure, quality government institutions and government-funded research. Finally, the plan has to win bipartisan support, so the candidate advocating it not only wins the election but has a mandate to implement his plan afterward.

The Ryan-Romney budget fails that test. As Maya MacGuineas, the president of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, notes: It does not “protect the truly disadvantaged,” and it doesn’t put tax increases for the wealthy “on the table,” so it has zero chance of bipartisan support. Obama has proposed his own 10-year budget. It is much better than Ryan’s at balancing our near-term need to revitalize the pillars of American success, by cutting, taxing and investing. But it does not credibly address the country’s long-term fiscal imbalances, which require cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

Friedman's comments mirror those from former Reagan budget director David Stockman from a year ago. Stockman essentially said that Obama's plan was a step in the right direction that didn't go far enough while the GOP plan was worse.

So the Ryan plan worsens our trillion-dollar structural deficit and the Obama plan amounts to small potatoes, at best. Worse, we are about to descend into class war because the Obama plan picks on the rich when it should be pushing tax increases for all, while the Ryan plan attacks the poor when it should be addressing middle-class entitlements and defense.

--Ballard Burgher

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