Given the level of scrutiny dedicated to the minutiae of Rep. Paul Ryan’s plans for addressing the country’s long-run fiscal problems, you would think that President Obama had a similar plan or at least a plan of any kind for making the long-term budget sustainable. With the failure of the deficit commission, though, you would be wrong — he still doesn’t.
Instead, his administration can’t decide whether or not to even announce an intention to do tax reform (which, alongside spending reform, would be one half of a deficit plan) at the State of the Union, and his top tax adviser is relegated to dropping vague hints and clues about what might the speech might include.
And yet Obama’s leadership on these issues is far more consequential than Ryan’s or anyone else’s. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, a liberal tax reform advocate, has testified to this fact, as Howard Gleckman relates:
Unless the president takes the lead, reformers fear their efforts will go nowhere. “What this has always been about is the president,” Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) told me the other day. “We need to get the presidential bully pulpit.”
And it’s not even a partisan issue. From Bloomberg:
Representative David Camp, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, urged Obama to make tax overhaul a priority in his State of the Union speech later this month.
“Presidential interest in tax reform can only be helpful,” said Camp, a Michigan Republican.
These are just things to think about next time it’s suggested that Paul Ryan or Congressional Republicans are fiscally irresponsible.
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