The Trouble with Simpson-Bowles

Obama has tried to reduce the long-term deficit, but he should try harder

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Illustration by Oliver Munday for TIME; Obama: Getty Images

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Obama has taken other steps, most notably with his much-derided recent federal budget, which received zero support when put to the House of Representatives; the vote was a Republican ploy, and the Democrats deemed the Obama plan too abstemious, in any case. But lurking within that plan were promising gestures: a $30 billion cut in farm subsidies, reduced military retirement benefits, a near pay freeze for federal employees and even some changes to Medicare, like co-pays for home-health-care visits. Plus there's Obamacare, which has provisions that could make Medicare far more efficient and less afflicted by needless tests and procedures, thereby "bend[ing] the cost curve," as the President has been known to say.

One other detail: the real Simpson-Bowles provided, intelligently, for short-term stimulus of our droopy economy. Obama has continually tried to enact such stimulus, most recently with the American Jobs Act--which was chock-a-block with provisions Republicans normally support (like a tax cut for small businesses). The Republicans opposed it.

So Obama has tried to be SimBowlic. Has he tried hard enough? Probably not, but why disappoint your own base--with entitlement reform--when the other side won't play? Even so, should the President make a big SimBowlic statement in this campaign, perhaps in his convention speech? Absolutely. It's called leadership.

TO READ JOE'S BLOG POSTS, GO TO time.com/swampland

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