November 12th, 2010
12:57 PM ET

Letters to the President: #662 'The first cut is the deepest ... maybe'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama’s fiscal commission has startled DC with an aggressive plan to cut the deficit. I hope it doesn’t involve me mowing the White House lawn every Saturday.

Dear Mr. President,

Wow! I have to hand it to you; those are some whopping budget cuts your commission is slinging around. As I understand it, the plan is to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. That’s not pocket change, that’s for sure, and I’m pretty sure you can’t do it by just easing up on office supplies. “Hey Joe, what are you doing? That envelope can be used again! See, just write ‘Vice’ in front of ‘President’ and you’re in business.”

Of course you know that virtually everything in the plan is going to create controversy. Anytime you talk about raising taxes and reducing services in any fashion you can bet you’ll have a fight on your hands.

On the other hand, what else can we do? I’ve talked to many of my friends in the past couple of years about how they are trying to limit their spending, pump up their savings accounts (assuming they have jobs, which is not necessarily a safe assumption these days,) and buffer themselves against personal bankruptcy should the economy continue to be in the dumpster. Many of them are not happy about the steps they are taking, and yet they feel as if they are necessary. Maybe it’s the same for the country. I guess we’ll see.

I’ve done stories over the years about people who have descended into great debt and I can tell you the climb back into solvency is long and painful. But it begins with people admitting to themselves that the problem will not fix itself, that their lives will actually have to change.

I’m not sure how much we are ready for that message in this country. But I think probably the biggest way to kill the idea even before it get rolling is to give any hint of unfairness. If Americans feel that the suffering will be evenly shouldered by all and that the only purpose is to restore stability to the economy, then maybe they’ll give it a whirl. If not…I suspect it will make the health care debate look like a boat ride on a duck pond.

Anyway, looking forward to seeing how this ball of yarn rolls out. Call if you can.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. Steven

    It seems to me the country has a golden opportunity to begin to seriously cut the budget deficit right now by doing nothing. Nothing, that is, about "extending" the Bush tax cuts for anybody and everybody so that they expire at the end of this year. The Republicans are reportedly already strategizing about letting that happen so they can come back in greater strength in January and get the "extension" they want, applied retroactively. The Democrats might be wise to let them expire altogether and block all efforts to bring them back in the next Congress. People would howl about the increased taxes for a few months, but it would immediately bring in tons of revenue, so by 2012's election the deficit would be demonstrably considerably smaller and less of an issue for the Republicans to use against them.

    November 12, 2010 at 3:38 pm |