In early 2010, President Obama created the Bowles-Simpson commission on debt reduction. It was a shamelessly political move, designed to buy time in the budget debate and give Democrats cover through the November 2010 midterm elections. Throughout the year, Democratic candidates, and the president too, dodged questions regarding what they would do to rein in ballooning federal deficits and debt by saying they eagerly awaited the recommendations from the high-profile, presidentially appointed commission.
Well, as requested by the president, the commission issued its report in December 2010, after Republicans had taken back control of the House of Representatives and made significant gains in the Senate in the November election. The presentation of the commission’s recommendations provided the perfect opportunity for the president to move toward the political center as he geared up for his own reelection effort. All he had to do was embrace some sizable portion of the Bowles-Simpson framework, and he would have instantly transformed himself from the activist, big-spending liberal of 2009 and 2010 into the deficit-cutting centrist of 2011 and 2012. That would have put Republicans on the defensive from the get-go.
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