A Debt-Busting Plan Built on ‘Shared Sacrifice’
Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council and counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, was one of the more interesting personalities we had access to at the summit. An intelligent, soft-spoken man who prefers to make his points with statistics than flashy rhetoric, Sperling shared his perspective on the recent back-and-forth over the debt ceiling and federal spending woes.
His overarching theme: “When you have to lighten the load of a plane, you don’t kick out the engine.”
Sperling was practical with his suggestions and respectful of Republican points of view on debt reduction. The top advisor’s rational approach was a breath of fresh air compared to most of the partisan bickering regarding the deficit, with Sperling acknowledging how complicated the current budget mess is and stressing that the only solution is “shared sacrifice” where legislators “go along with things they would not agree with in an ideal world because the benefit of compromise is better for the country.”
If you read my article running Uncle Sam’s $2.2 trillion budget like a normal American family, or if you’ve looked into the numbers yourself, you understand that it is simply impossible to fix the current deficit without deep and damaging cuts to the military, Medicare, Social Security and other key programs. The administration’s cool head and pragmatism is comforting, since a level-headed approach that affects all parties equally is the only way to make progress on this incredibly challenging issue.
Balancing the budget with zero sacrifice is impossible. Balancing the budget by pushing one’s own political agenda is dangerous. My honest assessment is that the Obama administration is truly trying to do the right thing by cutting where they can, when they can.
Obama’s Team Is Truly Pro-Business
Though skeptics would argue that I am simply drinking the political Kool-Aid that was poured for me at this White House-sponsored summit, I must admit that I was impressed with the way the Obama administration is reaching out to all corners of the economy.
Yes, the old straw men popped up — green energy, union jobs and the like. But some sectors backed by the White House may surprise you.
I personally asked whether alternative energy plans would still include nuclear energy despite the trouble in Japan. I was assured it would with Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, stressing that the Obama administration offered $8 billion in loan guarantees in February to build the first new plant on U.S. soil in nearly 30 years. A bit unexpected.
I also personally asked Elizabeth Warren whether she believed big growth in the financial industry and extensive protections of consumers were mutually exclusive. The leader of the newly formed Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection scoffed at the notion, and went on to say she would never advocate blanket elimination of even the riskiest financial tools – but simply push for better disclosure so consumers would understand what they were getting into. That’s not a push for regulation, but for personal responsibility. This is one of the big reasons I am so convinced Warren may actually be good for banks, and it really impressed me.
Other industries that you think would be typical targets of the left were not – the coal sector as lauded for its big export potential, defense and cyber security were called out as big growth areas spurred by other high-tech developments in education and healthcare. The list goes on.
Say what you want about many Obama administration policies, but one thing is clear: The White House is not picking and choosing the businesses it wants to succeed and the ones it wants to fail.
More From My White House Visit
Over the last few days, I’ve shared the fruits of many of my White House summit interviews, including:
- 7 High Growth Sectors the White House Is Watching
- 3 Reasons Elizabeth Warren Could Be Good for Banks
- 4 Retirement Tips From the President and His Top Advisor
As you can see, I like lists …
And if you haven’t yet read my companion piece to this article, “3 Reasons to Panic Over Obama’s Economic Plan,” follow this link and check it out.