- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2012

The latest sign President Obama fears he’s headed for defeat came this week when he said he would seek a “grand bargain” with Republicans to reduce the $16 trillion debt.

Over the course of his campaign, Mr. Obama has ignored the monstrous debt he has piled up over the past four years in an orgy of unprecedented annual spending increases and budget deficits. Now, with little more than a week left before Election Day and the presidential race in a dead heat, he suddenly wants a compromise with Republican leaders in Congress to curb spending and borrowing.

He’s four years late and $5 trillion short of dealing with an issue that threatens to engulf our government, the economy and every American in a sea of unfathomable debt and, possibly, another recession.

The front page headline in Thursday’s Washington Post said, “Obama vows to refocus on debt” in his second term.

In an interview Tuesday with the Des Moines Register that he initially said was off the record, Mr. Obama called for a budget deal that he claimed would be “one of the biggest things we can do for the economy.”

Then, on Wednesday, amid new polls showing he was statistically tied with Republican Mitt Romney, the Obama campaign abruptly changed its mind and released the full transcript of the interview.

Next to a persistently weak economy and feeble job creation, the nation’s debt remains one of the top three concerns for voters. Polls now show that Mr. Romney has much higher approval scores for his ability to balance budgets and deal with the debt.

No doubt tightening polls were the key reason for the Obama campaign to release the transcript, which, in part, reads:

“We’re going to be in a position where I believe in the first six months we are going to solve that big piece of business. It will probably be messy. It won’t be pleasant. But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of [spending] cuts for every dollar in [taxes], and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs.”

Actually, it was House Speaker John A. Boehner who first broached the idea of a grand compromise.

The president offered no new details of what he would offer the Republicans in such negotiations, nor how they would deal with the Jan. 1 deadline when a mountain of automatic tax increases and spending cuts are scheduled to take place.

Republicans are unalterably opposed to raising income tax rates on anyone in an anemic economy that has barely been growing at between 1 percent and 2 percent.

Even former President Bill Clinton has urged Mr. Obama and his party to temporarily extend all of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts in the present economic climate, giving Congress time to pass a tax reform plan that would broaden the tax base and lower all the income tax rates at the same time. This is essentially the same plan Mr. Romney has been proposing in his agenda to get America working again.

But Mr. Obama has stubbornly refused to consider such a plan, saying Mr. Romney’s “numbers don’t add up.” In fact, his bipartisan deficit-reduction commission proposed the very same tax reform approach that Mr. Romney is championing.

Republicans responded Wednesday to his eleventh-hour grand bargain proposal by dismissing it out of hand as a warmed-over plan right out of his last budget, which was decisively rejected by the House and Senate.

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