Hey, do you remember when President Obama created the Simpson-Bowles commission to tackle the national debt problem? I’m sure he would prefer that you forget. Paul Ryan brought it up in his RNC speech and the Democrats went on the attack! How could Ryan bring this up when he voted against it? Well, it’s not Ryan’s fault Obama chose to ignore his own panel’s suggestions, or that they left out Ryan’s input.
The Wall Street Journal lays it out:
Mr. Obama created the panel in February 2010, without a trace of irony, after he had raised federal spending to post-World War II highs. His political goal was to blunt attacks on his overspending, while also trying to lure Republicans into becoming tax collectors for his agenda in the name of a balanced budget. Mr. Simpson is the kind of Republican who had fallen for this in the past.
So it was a pleasant surprise when Messrs. Simpson and Bowles instead endorsed a more efficient and competitive tax code. Their draft swapped fewer brackets and lower rates for fewer loopholes and “tax expenditures.” The appeal for Democrats is that tax revenue would grow with a faster-growing economy, and Republicans would have to accept a net tax increase reaching 21% of GDP. That’s far higher than the historic average between 18% and 19% and above the modern high of 20.9% in 1944.
The political myth is that Mr. Ryan was the spoiler because he’s an anti-tax purist. His real objection at the time was that the Simpson-Bowles Democrats refused to offer an equal trade on spending. Their non-negotiable demand was that ObamaCare was off the table and there could be no structural reforms in Medicare and Medicaid.
How is that a real compromise? Everyone agrees that Medicare and Medicaid are growing too fast for revenues to keep up. Mr. Obama himself told the 2010 House GOP retreat that “The major driver of our long-term liabilities, everybody here knows, is Medicare and Medicaid and our health-care spending. Nothing comes close.” The fiscal reality is that if health care is off the table, then the only possible not-so-grand bargain is permanent tax increases that chase an explosion of federal spending.
The commission nonetheless divided into topical working groups, with Mr. Ryan joining Alice Rivlin of the Brookings Institution to propose a modified version of the premium-support Medicare reform he would later include in the House budget.
For political reasons, Messrs. Simpson and Bowles decided not to add this proposal to their final document. In December 2010, they were trying to get support from at least 14 of 18 members that Mr. Obama’s executive order required for a formal consensus. Ultimately three Republicans including Mr. Ryan voted no, and four Democrats voted no, with 11 members in favor.
Read the whole thing, it gets even more interesting from there. It was the Democrats who ended it, not Paul Ryan. Not that most of the MSM will let you know that.
This kind of dovetails with Bob Woodward’s book which he summarized in his latest WaPo column. Obama has never wanted to work with Congress, at least not after he lost his majority. He has no willingness to work with the other side. When even Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were working with the Republicans trying to work out a compromise on the debt limit, Obama threw down the hammer. It’s his way or the highway. He was even scolded by a staffer, the only one in the room with the gumption to tell him the truth. What was Obama’s problem with the bipartisan solution? He didn’t want to have to talk about the national debt during his campaign. (It topped $16 trillion the other day and keeps going up. ) Not that he listened. This is a man who is completely unwilling to compromise, and of course he accuses the other side of what he’s guilty of. With Obama and the Democrats projection is just par for the course.