By Brendan Loy
I backed Obama because he promised to resist the easy political calculus and do the right thing to grapple with our serious problems. If he ducks the debt test in his SOTU, if he fails to offer substantive measures to bring the debt and deficit and spending down now, then, to my mind, he fails a core test of his seriousness as a candidate and his integrity as a president.
Embrace [the] Bowles-Simpson [deficit commission’s recommendations], Mr. President. It was your commission. It would drastically change the economic climate, reassure international markets, and save the next generation from a debt burden that is simply immoral. Yes, tax reform can be part of this package, as Bowles-Simpson argued. But if Obama simply grabs tax reform and ignores spending, he will have bungled the key moment for his long-term success.
And the nation’s. Because, as all serious, grown-up participants in the conversation about our nation’s long-term fiscal health know (yes, I’m looking at you, Tea Party), you can’t fix this problem if you look at increased revenue and decreased spending as an either/or proposition. It’s a both/and. Nor, of course, can you fix the problem if you declare two-thirds of all federal spending — i.e., Medicare, Social Security and the military (and of course debt service) — off-limits.
Anyway, I generally agree with Sullivan, and I’m very interested and anxious to see what will happen Tuesday (as I mention in the podcast). This is very likely the most important speech of Obama’s presidency, both for his political fortunes and for the nation’s, well, national fortunes. It is a moment of great opportunity fraught with extreme peril. Rise to it, Mr. President.