Outflanking The GOP

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 13 2011 @ 10:32am

Matt Miller is dead-on. Obama should contrast the Ryan plan with his own, more fiscally conservative agenda. The key is to advertize the bottom line of the Ryan plan, which only brings us into balance by 2030, because of the need to avoid any new taxes, and sustain the fiscally ruinous federal revenues under George W. Bush. Why not get there sooner? Money quote:

What Obama should say is that America can't afford to wait a generation, as Republicans want to do, to balance the budget.  He should mock that Republican goal as preposterous and reckless, and say it exposes the party's supposed fiscal conservativism as a fraud.  Obama should say, so long as unemployment comes down to more normal levels, we should get to balance by 2018, and if the Republicans weren't so busy defending the Bush tax cuts, we could absolutely do this.  And he can sketch the outlines of a plan with a balanced blend of spending cuts and tax increases that would be enacted now, but which would click in only once unemployment is under 7 or 6 percent.

I'm not sure that last criterion is workable, especially since employment is a lagging indicator of growth. But the general idea is a great one, and Bowles-Simpson the obvious starting point. Simply making tax reform revenue-positive is a relatively painless way to raise taxes. A gas tax to pay for the two wars would also make sense (although, alas, it's a political non-starter).