These Are the Maximum Offers?

The editors of the Washington Post have come around to the position I’ve been arguing here for some time. Neither the offer from the White House nor the offer from the House for resolving the “fiscal cliff” is adequate:

What’s worrisome, though, is that the two sides are slipping into a kind of tacit agreement to scale back the size of an ultimate debt-reduction package. The president billed his plan as $4.4 trillion worth of debt reduction over 10 years. But $2.4 trillion of that comes from lower interest payments, alleged savings from winding down overseas wars Mr. Obama never planned to fight and discretionary cuts that were legislated a year ago. Mr. Boehner’s letter similarly identifies only $2.2 trillion of new revenues and cuts.

It will take more than that to dent the debt. A new report from a Bipartisan Policy Center task force headed by former senator Pete Domenici, a Republican, and former budget director Alice Rivlin, a Democrat, suggests that it would take $2.8 trillion in fresh cuts and revenue to stabilize the debt at 69 percent of gross domestic product by 2022 — above historical levels but sustainable. It would appear that Republicans and Democrats must not only come together but also raise their sights.

Don’t tell me what you’re willing to do. Tell me what will solve the problem.

We have left the land of comfort, of what we’d like to do. It’s in the rear view mirror and there’s no turning around. Now we must, as Bill Clinton memorably put it focus like a laser beam on what we need to do.

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