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Columns

August 26, 2012

Column: It’s time for Obama to get serious about debt

If it’s minor, if it’s petty, if it’s nothing at all to worry about, President Barack Obama is concerned, focused and ready to speak out loud and clear, as on the question of Mitt Romney’s tax returns. We’ve got to have them, going way back and then some, for how, after all, is the nation otherwise going to survive?

The Obama campaign has treated this issue as if it is bigger than just about anything else out there, and the president himself said in a press conference that the hullabaloo was perfectly legit even as he dodges and weaves on something that some of us think maybe matters more: his plans to address the debt.

Obama worked mightily to get us in this $16 trillion fix, producing record trillion-dollar deficits year after year, and now is working just as mightily to avoid specificity on the issue. About the closest he has come to moving beyond vague generalities is his plan to allow the expiration of a Bush tax cut on people making over $250,000 annually. That recovery-defeating move would provide roughly enough money to cover 20 days of our borrowing averaged over a year.

Meanwhile, he has given up negotiating with anyone much and has seemed more interested in spending more than spending less, which is to say goodbye economy, goodbye America. Everyone who knows anything knows we have to do something about the debt. Here are some of those I mean when I say everybody:

The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO has observed that the publicly held portion of the debt is the highest since World War II and says inaction will lower economic production and increase the likelihood of fiscal crisis. The CBO also has looked at the Obama 2013 budget spelling out ideas for the next decade and concluded it would prompt trillions more in deficits over the current formula.

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