President Barack Obama is holding a “fiscal responsibility summit” next week at the White House, on the heels of securing passage of the “stimulus” legislation. That’s the subject of a piece from me, up today at National Review Online.

Among other things, I observe that Republicans have taken on political risk in recent years to reform entitlements, only to be rebuffed by Democrats. For instance, President Bush tried to gain traction with a Social Security solvency plan in 2005, but Democrats chose to defend the status quo:

With this recent history, Republicans have every right to be wary about Obama’s real goals for the summit. To avoid a lot of wasted time, Republicans who are invited to participate [in the summit] could do everyone a favor by testing the president’s seriousness. If he really wants to work with them to solve the nation’s long-term budgetary challenge, he should be willing to reveal his plan to fix the problem, as certified by the actuaries who run the numbers. That means getting specific about the taxes he would raise and the benefits he would cut to keep the programs solvent for at least 75 years. If Obama showed the political courage necessary to put forward such a plan, he would certainly earn the right to mount the bully pulpit and push others to be “fiscally responsible.”

Until then, however, Republicans can reasonably assume that the president is unwilling to take on the political risks associated with getting the job done.

The full article can be read here.


February 19, 2009