Friday, August 31, 2012

Is the GOP for Simpson-Bowles?

One of the biggest surprises in the GOP campaign is the attack on Obama for not supporting the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan (capsule history and summary here). This is so surprising that Ryan's accusation against Obama caused mild-mannered political scientist Jonathan Bernstein to throw F-bombs, in capital letters no less.

So, being who I am, I wondered when this became a talking point for conservatives. They sure weren't embracing Simpson-Bowles in early 2011. So when did it stop being a corpse and start being a stick with which to club Obama?

Here's what I found.
  • First, May 26, 2012. Newsbusters. Art Laffer on Bill Maher talking about the economy. The commentary is that the left didn't like SB because of entitlement cuts, and Obama followed the left of his party. Maybe so, it was already dead, due to insufficient congressional support. Obama wasn't even the coup de grace.
  • The real spin starts on 8/15 with a piece for Fox News website. This is a balanced article about the political positions. Ryan lead opposition to SB, and Obama punted. The article said that Obama should have pushed the topic 2010-2011. Agreed.
  • had a story on 8/19. A cabal of political advisers encouraged Obama to let Paul Ryan go first, and then Obama would look sensible in comparison. The post says that Obama should have been the leader. Ha, ha. I think the political advisers were probably right. At that point, it was too late to lead on the issue for that year--the new GOP majority in the House had their pitchforks out and torches lit, so SB wasn't going to be considered. As Bill Maher says, Simpson Bowles would have gotten cooties if Obama endorsed it then.
I find it very hypocritical of Ryan, Breitbart, etc. to criticize Obama over his handling of SB since the GOP were even worse. The report came out as the new Tea Party Republicans were chomping at the bit to use their new power in the House. They tried a lot of brinksmanship on major funding bills and over the debt ceiling. Delicate negotiations or reasoned discussion of this bipartisan plan weren't on the agenda for the House GOP.

Funny - is Simpson-Bowles on the agenda now? (Ssh, it's just a prop.)

 Ryan honoring Simpson-Bowles in the breach - his partisan plan

Extra. The House reaffirmed its negative opinion of Simpson-Bowles in a 382-38 vote in March 2012.

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