Obama Announces Fiscal Responsibility Summit

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Barack, Money, Social Programs

During the campaign season he said he’d go through the federal budget line by line, and this sends a pretty clear message that he intends to make some tough cuts.

From Wash Post:

President-elect Barack Obama will convene a “fiscal responsibility summit” in February designed to bring together a variety of voices on solving the long term problems with the economy and with a special focus on entitlements, he said during an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors this afternoon.

“We need to send a signal that we are serious,” said Obama of the summit.

Those invited to attend will include Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (N.D.), ranking minority member Judd Gregg (N.H.), the conservative Democratic Blue Dog coalition and a host of outside groups with ideas on the matter, said the president-elect.

Two programs that Obama has his eye on? Medicare and Social Security…

Obama said that he has made clear to his advisers that some of the difficult choices–particularly in regards to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare – should be made on his watch. “We’ve kicked this can down the road and now we are at the end of the road,” he said.

If this doesn’t make the fiscal hawks out there happy, I’m not exactly sure what will. Of course it can’t just be talk, but the idea that a Democratic president will open up a dialogue about two political third rails a month into his presidency should count for something.

This entry was posted on Friday, January 16th, 2009 and is filed under Barack, Money, Social Programs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

12 Responses to “Obama Announces Fiscal Responsibility Summit”

  1. Trescml Says:

    I am pleased that President Obama will tackle these two growing issues. I only hope the American public is mature enough to honestly engage on these issues so the “third rail” reputation for both issues is put to bed. If not, we will look at a financial crisis that will make today look like the boom of the late 90s.

  2. gerryf Says:

    Now, surely this is all a smokescreen because Obama is a tax and spend liberal…says so in all my emails from the GOP. Democrats spend spend spend and grow government. The GOP is fiscally responsible and likes small government and lower spending.

    Please ignore the Reagan, Bush and Bush years. They did not really happen. And that whole Clinton fiscally responsible pay down the debt thing? That was also an illusion

    Remember. Reality is what the GOP says it is.

  3. Mike A. Says:

    It’s incredible with all of the issues he will need to address that he is (necessarily) linking these two major “untouchables”. Hope he’s strong….

  4. Jim S Says:

    I think the only thing that would make the “fiscal hawks” happy is if social programs are wiped from the map and the people who depend on them are left to suffer on their own once the private charities run out of funds.

  5. kranky kritter Says:

    Just so, Justin. It really CAN’T be just talk. We fiscal hawks (yup, I’ll count myself one, small “f”) are very familiar with people saying good things. And we know that it’s the doing that matters.

    So yeah, I’m glad Obama is saying sensible things. I expected him to take such a path, so I’m not especially surprised. IMO he’s clearly an intelligent guy who understands the basic issues. He knows that the necessary reforms are not so much complicated as politically difficult.

    I think the only thing that would make the “fiscal hawks” happy is if social programs are wiped from the map and the people who depend on them are left to suffer on their own once the private charities run out of funds.

    I can’t speak for all fiscal hawks. Only myself. And I think there’s a big distinction between being a fiscal hawk and being philosophically opposed to social programs. I support the concepts of government involvement in providing collectively funded basic healthcare and subsistence-level retirement benefits.

    But I don’t support any government spending way more than it collects except in extraordinary short-term circumstances. Because it’s not a sustainable practice. And I don’t think I’m alone. A lot of average folks want government spending to come in line with what it collects, and not by substantially raising taxes, either. Maybe a little bit here and there.

    So I think you’re wrong Jim, or you’re thinking of a different group. You don’t have to be a reflexively anti-government libertarian conservative to be a fiscal hawk. And I think Obama knows that.

  6. ExiledIndependent Says:

    First, love the branding of fiscal hawk. Neatly ties people who believe in smaller government and balanced budgets to war, the far right etc. But I guess the good news is that Bush categorically wasn’t a fiscal hawk, so at least our wagon won’t get hitched to that mule.

    Ahem. At any rate, what would have really satisfied fiscal realists (and hey, Hope and Change, right? There’s still a chance) would be serious accountability, true root cause analysis, and common-sense tactics to address the source of the financial crisis rather than Big Finance.

    Both the left and the right seem to be in bed with the banks right now, and actions like releasing hundreds of billions of dollars to Big Finance with zero tracking or accountability absolutely 100% mute out any pretty talk about a fiscal responsibility summit.

    The level of irony is unbelievable, and the fact that Obama supporters are so willing to buy in to it boggles the mind. We’re totally in a “words, not deeds” mode here, and I’m curious as to the point in time of the Obama presidency that that situation will reverse.

  7. John Burke Says:

    I wouldn’t get too worked up about it. All the man is doing is calling a meeting!

    The odds of his taking any serious initiative before, during or after that meeting remain lose to zero.

    It’s a tactical political move to put something in the bank against the time when everyone will be crying about the deficits (sure to come). Obama will be able to say he did this and that, but the GOP (or Democrats in Congress, for that matter) dropped the ball.

    Anyone who takes away any part of these two big entitlements will be unelected faster than you can say Change.

    The most anyone can or will do is to: (1) extend the retirement age futher for people who are so far away from retirement as to never think about it; (2) jack up the payroll tax more; or (3) trim Medicare costs a bit here and there so no one ever notices (more likely in the context of some overall health care reform).

    Beyond that, there’s always “privatization.” That is, of course, off limits for Democrats and a bridge too far for most Republicans after having been shot down.


  8. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Remember that one of Obama’s biggest criticisms by his opponents was his naivite and his lack of experience. This quality might actually favor conservatives in the long run.

    Obama studied law, he has asolutely no knowledge of how the economy works. But now that the fairy tale of the election campaign is over, he actually has to govern now. I expect him to appoint people with PhD’s in finance to tell him what to do, and he will soon realize that you simply can’t manage the economy the way that social-scientists on the far left think you can. They all majored in 19th century philosophy and liberal arts. Economics is a science that the base of the Democratic party know nothing about. The only way we get out of this mess is if we become “fiscally hawkish”

    Obama is not an idealogue. He is like Chauncey Gardner or Winnie the Pooh stumbling into the next adventure of his political career because people around him keep saying, “You’re so charming, why don’t you run for office!” He didn’t know what he was doing when he joined that church or when he hooked up with Bill Ayers. He just didn’t get it. Well, the job of the president is too big not to get, Everyone understands that including him, so now its time for Obama to delegate some authority.

    Even Bill Clinton took welfare as we knew it and “wiped it off the map.” Who was a bigger champion of global free trade than him? Obama is backtracking on almost all of his campaign promises, including closing gitmo, Iraqi withdrawal, torturing terror suspects, tariffs on corporations that expand oversees, mandatory civil-security service, even rolling back the bush tax cuts and raising capital gains. What’s left? Maybe he is beginning to understand the way the world works in such a way that ideologues on the left just close their mind to. Perhaps Obama’s naive innocence gives him an open mind.

  9. Jim S Says:

    My comment was a quick one that is prompted mostly by the fact that those who do want to eliminate or cripple (Thus discrediting them.) social programs have claimed their desire is prompted by fiscal responsibility and virtually no one stood up and said that the two aren’t the same. Where have any “fiscal hawks” defended the existence of Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare or food stamps? I haven’t seen any of them.

  10. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    I think the only thing that would make the “fiscal hawks” happy is if social programs are wiped from the map and the people who depend on them are left to suffer on their own once the private charities run out of funds…Where have any “fiscal hawks” defended the existence of Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare or food stamps?

    Well silly, its because conservatives want poor people to suffer. It makes them “happy”…Duh!

    And since the only possible way for poor people to avoid suffering is through government mediated wealth redistribution and welfare dependacy, the best way to hurt poor people and make conservatives happy is through abolishing the welfare state and social entitlement programs.

  11. Jim S Says:

    What makes conservatives happy is their ideology. If the reality doesn’t pan out on the ground they just don’t pay any attention and blame the people who are suffering. See the attempt at snark from The Dim One for proof.

  12. J. Harden Says:

    What makes conservatives happy is their ideology. If the reality doesn’t pan out on the ground they just don’t pay any attention

    Sayeth an ardent supporter of the Great Society…certainly no lack of kutzpah coming from the left.

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