Obama should follow the governors -- the Democrats, too
It is not merely Republican lawmakers, conservative critics and 29 Republican governors who are highlighting the president's decision to punt the tough calls on the deficit to the other party. Ruth Marcus points out how poorly Obama compares to California's Gov. Jerry Brown:
The man once known as Governor Moonbeam sounded more like Governor Laser Beam when it came to addressing the state's fiscal crisis.
Obama waited until minute 35 to mention the nation's "mountain of debt." He then proposed almost nothing concrete to dig out from under it - certainly nothing politically risky.
Brown began with the subject of the state's dire fiscal situation and stuck to it.
And then, as Ruth points out, Brown enumerated the hard choices he was willing to make:
Brown's budget would close about half the gap with tax increases and the other half with painful spending cuts - slashing assistance for children in low-income families, poor seniors and the disabled; health care for the poor; and education. Without the extra tax revenue, he warned, the cuts would have to go even deeper into education, prisons and health programs.
I would strenuously dispute the notion that California lacks for revenue. But at least Brown is making an effort to address his state's economic woes and is largely focused on spending reduction.
There's another Democratic governor who is also making some tough choices, New York's Andrew Cuomo. The Wall Street Journal reports:
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, calling the state "functionally bankrupt," on Tuesday proposed a budget that freezes spending on education and Medicaid and cuts overall outlays by 2.7% to fill a projected $10 billion deficit.
Mr. Cuomo said he opposed higher taxes and major new fees, in contrast with the major revenue increases backed by fellow Democratic governors in Illinois and California, which are confronting similar cash shortages.
Notice what is going on here. The Democratic governor of a deep blue state with a Democratic state assembly is doing what the president won't -- taking on Democratic constituencies in order to restore fiscal sanity. Why can't Obama do the same? It will be interesting to see what the Democratic senators from New York and California have to say about Obama's failure to show the sort of leadership that their Democratic governors are demonstrating.
The nation's governors divide largely into two camps: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) and everyone else. (Brown, I think, can fairly be put in the "everyone else" category.) Quinn is whistling past the graveyard of his state's economy, avoiding specific spending cuts and hiking taxes. (It's so bad that New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie is running ads to lure Illinois businesses to his state.)
Now, it's too much to hope that Obama would be the Chris Christie of the federal government, but why shouldn't he be at least as tough and as courageous as Cuomo?
| February 2, 2011; 9:30 AM ET
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