Last night at dinner with friends, conversation turned to the apparent lack of progress at the meeting between Tim Geithner, representing the President, and John Boehner on Thursday. One friend commented that he was disappointed in the President's failure to put forward a specific plan, a criticism that has been all over the media since the meeting.
I countered that the President had indeed put forward specifics, and that further, to do anything more would simply be negotiating with himself - a tact he was roundly and appropriately criticized for during the debt ceiling crisis. My friend challenged me to name the specifics and, while unable to do so last night, I followed up with him by email this morning. Here's what I sent:
From the 11/29/12 Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney;
Q One last thing on this. You say that the President has put forward specific spending cuts. Boehner said again this morning that they haven’t seen any plan. Where do they fall on this when they actually talk in person, what they did last night or what they did on Saturday? Has the President said that he's put forward spending cuts and he doesn’t plan to put forth any more?
MR. CARNEY: I'm glad you asked. This is available not just here but to everyone in the world who has an Internet connection. And I know things are done the old-fashioned way sometimes on Capitol Hill, but I believe they have electricity and Internet connections and they can get this. This is an 85-page plan that is very detailed -- sorry, maybe 65, going on 70 -- that's very detailed and it outlines -- it's the President's Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction that was submitted in September of 2011. It is of a piece with his budget that he put forward in February 2012.
And in terms of where we are missing specifics is anything specific, politically feasible, or substantial from the Republican side on revenues. …..And here it is: President's Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction. In part, from the Introduction:
…. the President is putting forward a balanced approach that both asks for shared sacrifice from all Americans and draws from across the budget. This should include additional spending cuts in mandatory programs, modest adjustments in important entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, capping spending on Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), and reforming our tax code so that we ask our biggest corporations and wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.
Specifically, the President is proposing $257 billion in cuts and reforms to a wide range of mandatory programs from Federal retirement to agricultural subsidies, reform of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, new program integrity initiatives, and getting rid of unneeded Federal real property to reduce the deficit.The specifics are in the 67-page document. Just because it’s nothing new, doesn’t mean it doesn't exist.
Why should the President have to put forth ANOTHER plan? The one he put out last year appropriately remains his initial offer, until the Republicans come forward with a specific counter-proposal on both taxes AND spending cuts.
The Republicans may think that continuing to say the President didn’t put forth a plan will make it so, but it doesn’t.