1:00 PM EST, December 18, 2012
We are accustomed to the opprobrium columnist Thomas Schaller heaps on all things Republican. However, his most recent rant on who's to blame for the fiscal cliff deserves further reflection ("Crisis they created catches up with Republicans," Dec. 12).
Although Mr. Schaller admits that spending as a percentage of GDP is unprecedentedly high under President Barack Obama, he has been consistent in blaming it on the president's predecessor.
Even the progressives' oft referred to arbiter of truth, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, has forecast that we are on track to push the national debt to nearly 200 percent of GDP in 2037. It is no mystery that this is being driven by the government's commitments to entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
It appears Mr. Schaller wants to continue to exonerate Mr. Obama from the huge debt burden our country faces. According to the Treasury, the debt has grown $5.3 trillion since Mr. Obama took office in 2009, compared to $4.9 trillion in George W. Bush's eight years.
When history looks at both presidents, neither man will be remembered as a paragon of fiscal responsibility. I hope that at some point Mr. Obama demonstrates that he has what it takes to tackle these fiscal challenges.
If Mr. Schaller doesn't like Rep. Paul Ryan's voucher solution for Medicare, fine, show me a practical alternative. If the answer is that under Obamacare we will see savings in Medicare payments of more than $700 billion from reduced payments to hospitals and private insurance companies, I shudder to think how the law of unintended consequences may unfold.
No one can blame Republican House Speaker John Boehner for being somewhat skeptical that by granting Mr. Obama a $1.6 trillion tax increase he can expect commitments from the Democrats on spending cuts. That would be a fool's gamble.
Simply asserting that the public will blame Republicans for the impending fiscal cliff does not justify Mr. Obama's lack of leadership in promoting fiscal responsibility. Even as a supporter of the president, Mr. Schaller should expect more.
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