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Obama To Hold Fiscal Responsibility Summit

President-elect Barack Obama visits the Post newsroom after a meeting with the editorial board and Washington Post Co. Chairman Don Graham, right. (Photo, The Washington 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.

Obama's comments came in a wide-ranging, hour-long interview that came just five days before he will be inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States and become the first African American to hold that title.

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.

Finding ways "stop the bleeding" in the American economy in the short term - the primary vehicle of which will be his economic stimulus plan, which is wending its way through Congress currently - as well as keeping the country safe are the top priorities for his first term, said Obama.

His plans to create or save 3 million American jobs will "stabilize the patient", Obama insisted, but resisted questions about how quickly the average American can expect to see tangible results from his economic policies.

"We are in uncharted waters here," Obama said. "I don't have a crystal ball."

Make sure to check out tomorrow morning for much more on the interview with the president-elect.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 15, 2009; 3:58 PM ET
Categories:  White House  
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I think the "fiscal responsibility summit" is a good idea if it's a wide-ranging discussion of the topic from many perspectives. If there is a featured presentation on ending the wars abroad and rationalizing the absurdly large "homeland security" budgets domestically, I'd consider it a fair summit.

Otherwise--a clown show.

Posted by: DexterClinkscale | January 18, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I guess "entitlement reform" would include reversing the tax cuts for the wealthy, which the wealthy certainly feel "entitled" to. Yes, we do need a high profile fiscal responsibility summit to discuss this problem of the wealthy draining the treasury, just like those orphans, old people, and widows do. Paul Krugman would happily chair the meeting. You can just see from the photo of Don Graham how he is suffering financially. Go for it.

Posted by: DeanOR | January 17, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I can give you the answer to the problem with Medicare in one word. Privatization. If you want prescription coverage, you are FORCED into a HMO. No choice (or no RX coverage). The HMO's are over charging for everything. And guess what? You never know what they charge for.You never even see a statement of what the HMO is charging Medicare.

Posted by: lanceC | January 17, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

"Not sure I like the 'Change'.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | January 16, 2009 6:21 AM |"
Yeah, I think things were much better before the election, look how good things are now!...and Obama's not even in office yet!

I mean, we ONLY have two wars going on, we could have many more if we wanted to.

America's reputation as torturers is good because people will be afraid of us and want to be on our side so we don't torture them.

Despite the "liberal" media spreading wild rumors of foreclosures, major financial institutions failing, small and major retailers shuttering their doors and 2.2 million jobs lost in 2008 alone, THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ECONOMY ARE SOUND!

So charlietuna666, you and I can go hide in a hole until this "changyniss" thing plays out.

Posted by: JRM2 | January 16, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow, not even in office yet and he's already passing the buck to committees, summits, studies and commissions. Talk about a fast learner.


Posted by: lithium452 | January 16, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

"Obama doesn't have a crystal ball, but, as we have seen with his cabinet selections thus far, he has surrounded himself with Wall Street insiders, corporate hacks, and the same sort of typical free trade-globalization fools that Bush looked to for his economic advisors."

Poor mikeB. The new CIC isn't even sworn in yet and already the disillusionment has begun. Wow, that must be a new record.

Hate to say I told you so buddy, but....

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | January 16, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I think everyone should pay into Social Security based on their wages. I also believe that since people are living longer, the age for receiving social security should be raized to reflect the increased life expectancy but the age for medicare should remain the same or be reduced. Medicare should only be the insurance when there is no primary insurance.
I also believe that the working poor, farm workers, rural populations and american indians on reservations need to be included more realistically in all intitlement programs and in health and education initiatives. These people have been long neglected.

Posted by: sm98yth | January 16, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I suggest that the Summit attendees and the serious Fix posters read this:

The author is an emeritus professor of finance at Penn. He covers the bases, I think.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 16, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

So, let's see,

We have a President Elect who has never run anything, not even a corner store. Don't tell me he ran his campaign, because he didn't, he showed up and gave speeches. The candidate doesn't have time to run the campaign.

We have a Vice President Elect who thinks FDR was President and America had TV when the stock market crashed in 1929, (Herbert Hoover was in office and Television didn't become widely used until the '50's), he is also well known for his plagiarism in the late '80s.

We have a Secretary of State nominee, who has never run anything, not even a corner store. Her claim to fame is that she is the wife of a former President, who had sex in the Oval Office, disgraced the Presidency and was impeached.

We have a CIA Director nominee who has never worked in the intelligence field and is expected to take over during the most dangerous times we have ever faced.

We have a Democrat Governor of Illinois who is the process of being impeached for trying to sell the Senate seat of the now President Elect. At the same time, the Democrat Senate is about to approve the person this Governor named as a replacement for that senate seat.

Now we have someone that is expected to replace Hillary Clinton as the new Senator from New York, who has never held office, has never run anything, not even a corner store, and whose only claim to fame is that she is worth over 100 million dollars and her father was President and was assassinated 45 years ago.

Finally, though I don't think that this is the end, we have a nominee for Treasury Secretary who doesn't pay his taxes.

Oh, this is really upbeat. Only someone with their head firmly where the sun doesn't shine could think this is a positive situation.

Not sure I like the 'Change'.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | January 16, 2009 6:21 AM | Report abuse

Opa2, Americans use a comma, not a period, as the thousand delimiter in large numbers. We use a period to delimit dollars and cents. The reverse of Europeans. You look like you are impersonating an American here.

Posted by: nodebris | January 15, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

To: Infantry etc. As every adult knows, calling our President Elect, or any African-American a "boy" is racist and you should be ashamed for doing it.

Posted by: Opa2 | January 15, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

You can fix Soc Sec by making everybody pay on ALL their income. It seems unfair to me that when I made 40 grand working in Health Care I paid close to $3000 in Soc Sec and Medicare taxes. However the CEO made $400.000 and by rights should have paid $30.000 in Soc Sec and Medicare taxes. However he only paid about $6.000. I ended up paying a far larger share of my total income than he did. (7.35 against 1.5) I know all this because, believe it or not, I did his taxes in my spare time and paid income taxes and 15% Soc Sec/Medicare on the meager income I made doing it..

Posted by: Opa2 | January 15, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Take $550 Billion and pay off the at-risk mortgages. That is what it would take according to Congressional hearing.

Then get the money back from the banks and AIG. They are using it to party and merge into larger institutions too big to fail. Where is the Anti-Trust division of Justice?

The at-risk mortgage recipients can then pay it back with 25% of their take home pay forever, if need be.

If we are to believe that risky mortgages caused this mess, then end the mess. Go against the emotions of That's Not Fair.

All emotions aside, it sure beats a 5-10 year recession.

Or were we lied to and the risky mortgages aren't the problem?

Posted by: VoiceofReason | January 15, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

"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.





Posted by: cintronlourdes | January 15, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Forget about giving money away and cutting taxes. Abolish free trade and the American workers will earn our way out of this mess. Trying to place blame will not solve the problem. Jobs will. Once our economy is back on the right track, we can make some trade deals that will benefit us and some developing countries. No more one sided deals...

Posted by: wigglwagon | January 15, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

why does lil hussein need any meeting. he said he had all the answers.
the oceans and air would be clean, there would be no global warming - he was right about that - there isn't any - and he was going to steal from the rich and give all the money to us. that would fix everything.
do you think the boy was lying - maybe just a little?

Posted by: infantry11b4faus | January 15, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

You mean someone with a brain is actually going to listen to others and try and dig us out of the black hole which the Bush administration and their ilk threw us into?
How refreshing!

Posted by: sfilutze | January 15, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Who better than Barack to lead a fiscal responsible summit. his campaign was one of the most fiscally responsible campaigns run in US history. The guy is definately in step and has a brilliant mind.

We look forward to the next four years Barack... Godspeed, and blessings.

Posted by: need4trth | January 15, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Obama takes up "fiscal responsibility" and the Republicans repay him by going bonkers over the completely unsurprising stimulus package in the House? Someone isn't holding up their end...

Posted by: parkerfl1 | January 15, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse



* What happened to Homeland Security warnings of "heightened risk" during Presidential transition?

* How about the late November FBI warning about possible Northeast train station attacks?

* Joe Biden's longstanding warnings about security flaws along the Amtrak Northeast corridor -- why isn't he waving this whistle stop tour to a halt?

It is both mystifying and frightening to contemplate the unnecessary risk to which President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden are subjecting themselves by going through with Saturday's planned pre-inauguration "whistle stop" train ride from Philadelphia to Washington.

In his farewell press conference on Monday, President Bush seemed to go out of his way to twice repeat that the greatest threat the nation faces is another terrorist attack. At one point in his presser, he said that by giving official voice to the threat, he was not "trying to set something up." Here are President Bush's exact words:

"There is an enemy that still is out there.

"You know, people can maybe try to write that off as, you know, 'he's trying to set something up.'

"I'm telling you there's an enemy that would like to attack America -- Americans -- again. There just is. That's the reality of the world."

George W. Bush could not have been more plain-spoken, candid and direct. The incoming White House team ignores his words -- which he most likely thought about before uttering them -- at their peril.


OR (if link is corrupted):

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 15, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

"This is really getting tedious."

Buckle up and get prepared for a really tedious eight years.

Posted by: nodebris | January 15, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

"We're supposed to trust these people to practice fiscal responsibility?"

You trusted Bush and the Republicans, so your opinion isn't particularly valuable on this topic.

Posted by: nodebris | January 15, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Timothy Geithner the Treasury Secretary nominee didn't pay $60,000 in taxes until caught by people researching him.

Eric Holder, the Attorney General nominee, was the lawyer for Purdue Pharma whose drug OxyContin was killing people and harming thousands through addiction and medical complications. He negotiated a small settlement with West Virginia that allowed Purdue Pharma to keep selling OxyContin and to continue killing and harming patients to make a profit.

See the Mother Jones article from yesterday titled, Why Eric Holder Represents What's Wrong with Washington.

We're supposed to trust these people to practice fiscal responsibility?

Posted by: CaptainQ | January 15, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Look at the bright side, at least the messiah has admitted he has no clue what fiscal responsibility means in the least.

that is a good step one for the guy who prefers to vote PRESENT.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | January 15, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

WillSeattle - Part of the problem with infrastructure projects is that it will merely create more "public servants". Public service sector benefits consume 57% of local revenues right now, so adding to their number without fundamentally changing compensation packages for them will only make a bad situation worse. Obama's proposals with regards to Social Security, in light of the financial it taken by private sector workers' 401K and other benefits (which aren't protected whereas public sector packages are) only shows how out of touch Obama is. Most private sector workers are facing retirement with only SS and Medicare and Medicaid as a means of surviving. In fact, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers are being forced into early retirement today, electing the age 62 decreased benefit option, as a consequence of rampant age discrimination in the enormous number of layoffs occurring. The underlying weakness for the economy is free trade and globalization, job loss due to outsourcing, and displacement of U.S. workers by cheap guest workers. That cause is EASILY remedied by enacting punitive taxes on goods and services that have been outsourced, by taxing corporations and investments that outsource jobs, and by doing away with laws that allow for the displacement of U.S. citizens by guest workers. Instead of some basic sane protectionist laws, the blind idiots in Washington are proposing to grow their way out of the mess free trade created by more free trade... rather like taking up smoking to cure lung cancer.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | January 15, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I see will in Seattle is a typical Lib. He wants to increase lending to all the folks who have already strongly indicated they can't pay it back.

you should run for congress.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | January 15, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Convening a "fiscal responsibility" summit will be highly ironic if the "economic stimulus" bill outlined today by House Democratic leaders essentially passed with few, if any substantive, modifications. Some Democrats in Congress, frustrated by underfunding for certain favored programs during the Bush presidency, are trying to take advantage of their large majorities in Congress and the incoming Obama administration, to attempt major increases in spending in areas which will do little to provide an economic stimulus. Increases in Medicaid and education spending are justified, but should be introduced as separate bills, they will provide minimal stimulus to the overall economy, as well as save or restore few jobs.

The so-called tax relief will provide nothing for most retired persons since they no longer have payroll taxes. The ALT relief will benefit households in the upper middle class, who are more likely to save than spend the money to help stimulate the economy.

Democrats need to show more integrity by enacting separate legislation for spending increases which will provide a minimal economic stimulus or tax relief for the upper middle class. The economic stimulus as originally described by Barack Obama and some Democrats was supposed to provide significant tax reductions to all but wealthy households and major increases in infrastructure spending to provide a substantive boost to the economy, as well as restore or maintain about three million jobs. The economic stimulus bill in the form desired by House Democratic leaders is primarily a big spending bill, not a substantive economic stimulus.

One of the main reasons why most Americans have such low esteem for Congress and politicians in general is because they do not seem to understand the problems of ordinary people. Any changes in the entitlement programs, enacted by politicians mostly in the top 10% of incomes, will almost inevitably have significant detrimental financial consequences for most retired persons and their families.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | January 15, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I understand all you goobers at the Post cheered when the Messiah arrived! This is really getting tedious.

Posted by: tcdifla | January 15, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Lib solution to every problem can be solved by simply flipping a coin:

Heads -spend more
Tails - surrender

Posted by: king_of_zouk | January 15, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

The reality is that most of the problem is banks not lending to consumers and small business.

Want to increase consumer spending?

Reinstate usury laws, and cap maximum credit card rates at 10 pct higher than the 30 year fixed rate (e.g. 14.5 to 15 pct around now) instead of the vast majority at 26 to 30 percent at the moment. And look at the trebled minimum payment amounts on most consumer credit.

Pull back the loans to banks that won't loan the money out and put that money to work building infrastructure in America (40 pct transit, 10 pct high-speed passenger/freight rail, 50 pct existing bridges/roads).

Posted by: WillSeattle | January 15, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse


"particularly in regards to entitlement programs "


suggest you pick up a copy of Strunk and White

Posted by: king_of_zouk | January 15, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

No, Obama doesn't have a crystal ball, but, as we have seen with his cabinet selections thus far, he has surrounded himself with Wall Street insiders, corporate hacks, and the same sort of typical free trade-globalization fools that Bush looked to for his economic advisors. There isn't one voice for sane protectionism, for raising taxes on corporations and investments that result in outsourced jobs. If Obama keeps on merely fiddling with Bush's free trade train wreck, rather than taking bold steps to kill that beast, we'd have better luck with a fake crystal ball than the sort of advice he is getting.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | January 15, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Those Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats currently vowing to vote against the stimulus bill are once again trotting forth fresh evidence of their criminal Stupidity.

WHILE the Federal government can now borrow at Rates ranging from ZERO to ONE PERCENT -said Congressional Morons refuse to Borrow & spend...WHEN...they have been doing exactly that for the past 8 years at interest rates many times higher!

Given the unprecedented OPPORTUNITY to rebuild our infrastructure (criminally starved for decades by same morons)
...@ not more than 1% stupid do you have to be to pass up such a golden opportunity?

While we're at it we need to bump up the total from $850 Billion to a Whole $Trillion or a $Trillion and a half.

Double the Tax Break/welfare (whatever you want to call it) for that 95% of consumers - from $500 individual and $1,000 family - to $1,000 individual and $2,000 family.

Those politicos currently blabbling

"no tax cuts, no money for the 95% because the Bush stimulus just didn't work."
--- never cite any SOURCE for said "info" & conveniently forget that $300 and $600 in increased spending power was far more than WIPED OUT by the GAS PRICE increases.

Posted by: elme13 | January 15, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

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