Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chairman of President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, called the Paul Ryan budget "sensible, straightforward, serious" at a speech given at the University of North Carolina last September. The video of the speech, first reported at HotAir via Morgen Richmond, provides a compelling case that a growing number of independents and Democrats are acknowledging President Obama has failed to offer a serious solution to our expanding fiscal crisis.
HotAir offers this transcript of the portion of speech captured in this video, courtesy of blogger Resist We Much:
“Have any of you met Paul Ryan? We should get him to come to the university. I’m telling you this guy is amazing, uh. I always thought that I was OK with arithmetic, but this guy can run circles around me. And, he is honest. He is straightforward. He is sincere.
And, the budget that he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straightforward, serious budget and it cut the budget deficit by $4 trillion…just like we did.
The President came out with his own plan and the President came out, as you will remember, with a budget and I don’t think anyone took that budget very seriously. Um, the Senate voted against it 97 to nothing. He, therefore, after a lot of pressure from folks like me, he came out with a new budget framework and, in the new budget framework, he cut the budget deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years. And, to be candid, this $4 trillion cut was very heavily back-end loaded. So, if you looked at it on a 10 year basis and compared apples-to-apples, it was about a $2.5 trillion cut.”
Bowles, a well respected figure in Democratic political figures, served as Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff. He was tapped by President Obama in 2010 to co-chair the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with retired Republican Senator Alan Simpson. After months of deliberation, this "Bowles-Simpson Commission" presented a budget reduction plan that involved spending cuts combined with tax increases to President Obama, who promptly ignored virtually every recommendation it made.
Last Thursday, two days before Governor Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate, Bowles criticized both Obama and Romney in an op-ed published in the Washington Post. Obama, he argued had not implemented enough of the Bowles-Simpson proposals and had not cut spending enough. Governor Romney, on the other hand, failed to embrace the elimination of tax loopholes, and tax increases through a simpler but more "progressive" tax code:
It is as a numbers guy that I hope we see, this fall, a numbers-based debate on the debt...As a lifelong Democrat who proudly voted for Obama in 2008, I applauded the president’s insistence on a balanced plan to stabilize the debt. I have urged him to go further and embrace more of the recommendations of the national commission he appointed. For example, to be taken seriously, his plan has to do more to slow the growth in health-care costs.
As a businessman with real respect and appreciation for Mitt Romney’s business career, I plead, from one numbers guy to another: You must have a balanced plan that reforms the tax code in a progressive, pro-growth manner and produces additional revenue if you are serious about reducing the deficit by at least $4 trillion without disrupting the country’s fragile economic recovery and hurting the disadvantaged.The plan must produce enough capital to invest in education, infrastructure and high-value-added research so that the United States can compete effectively in the knowledge-based global economy...
This month, Romney said that his tax reform proposal is “very similar to the Simpson-Bowles plan.” How I wish it were. I will be the first to cheer if Romney decides to embrace our plan. Unfortunately, the numbers say otherwise: His reform plan leaves too many tax breaks in place and, as a result, does nothing to reduce the debt...
So although I give Romney credit for pledging to reform the tax code to reduce loopholes, his current proposal will not take us to the promised land. Our commission’s tax plan broadens the base, simplifies the code, reduces tax expenditures and generates $1 trillion for deficit reduction while making the tax code more progressive. The Romney plan, by sticking to revenue-neutrality and leaving in place tax breaks, would raise taxes on the middle class and do nothing to shrink the deficit.
Obama hasn’t gone as far in cutting spending, particularly in health care, as is necessary to stabilize the debt at a reasonable level and keep it on a downward path as a percentage of the gross domestic product. But in contrast to Romney, the president — like the “Gang of Six” and other like-minded members of both parties — has embraced the central principle of Simpson-Bowles: that America will turn the corner on its debt only if Republicans and Democrats come together to support a balanced deficit-reduction plan. For the numbers to work, both parties need to put aside partisanship.
Over the next four years, the United States will need to do much more to address its long-term debt than either party has been willing to do. This fall, the American people deserve a serious national debate about our debt, not easy promises. To avoid the most predictable economic crisis in history, we must let the numbers do the talking.
Now that the video in which Mr. Bowles praises the Ryan budget has surfaced, it will become increasingly difficult for serious minded Democrats like Mr. Bowles to continue to maintain the fiction that President Obama has any intention of changing his policies of financially reckless extremism. Conservative blogger Iowahawk tweeted the argument succinctly in less than 140 characters on Saturday immediately after Romney's selection of Ryan as his Vice President was announced:
“Paul Ryan represents Obama’s most horrifying nightmare: Math.”
Iowahawk's observation quickly spread through the media. Glenn Reynolds quoted him in an article at USA Today, and posters with Ryan's image above the single word "Math" began to circulate throughout the blogosphere over the weekend.
Even Erskine Bowles will have a hard time disputing Paul Ryan's math.
Michael Patrick Leahy is a Breitbart News contributor, Editor of Broadside Books’ Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, and author of Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.