Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson says he believes President Barack Obama plans to unveil a new balanced budget proposal “very shortly” to address the nation’s record $16 trillion debt.
But the Democrat noted during an interview Tuesday with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that Republicans would have to join with the president in a bipartisan way for any plan to work.
“I think this president is going to outline how he wants to reach some kind of a balanced budget in the next years,” Richardson told Cavuto. “And I would say, Neil, that I wouldn’t be surprised if during the campaign, maybe even very shortly . . . the outlines of a Simpson-Bowles plan comes out that deals with revenues, that deals with entitlements, that deals with spending cuts.
“But we will need to make this bipartisan,” he said. “Otherwise, it will not work.”
In the meantime, Richardson suggested the president should call his Cabinet together to explore “ideas” about what can be done in the short term to deal with the $16 trillion debt confirmed Tuesday by the Treasury Department.
“I think you immediately get the whole Cabinet and the president says to the Cabinet, ‘Look, all of you guys need to participate, every one of your agencies, I want ideas,’” said Richardson, who served as energy secretary and U.N. ambassador under former President Bill Clinton.
Richardson said Obama was willing to defy some leaders in own party to accept some recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction commission last year.
But he insisted Republicans were as much to blame for the failure to reach an agreement because they refused to provide him with any kind of “support or cover” he could use to convince Democrats to give on some issues, including spending cuts.
“The president was ready to accept a very strong plan,” Richardson said, adding that it included entitlement reforms, new revenues, and spending cuts that Democratic leaders were against.
Austan Goolsbee, the former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, agreed with Richardson, suggesting it was time to “revisit” what he called “the grand bargain that the two parties almost did last year.”
“And I think, to do that, you will have to have some revenues and you will have to have a lot of spending cuts, and you will have to address entitlements and discretionary, and whole a bunch of things,” Goolsbee told Cavuto in a separate interview Tuesday.
Goolsbee also said Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s plan to cut taxes even more would add to the growing debt and would do little or nothing to stimulate economic growth.
“Tax cuts do not pay for themselves. We have got decades of evidence on that fact,” said Goolsbee, who was Obama’s chief economic adviser.
Recalling the budget negotiations between Obama and Republican congressional leaders, Goolsbee said the president was willing to embrace a deal that included “$3 of cuts” to “$1 of revenue.” But he said: “It felt to me like the Republicans said we will not tolerate any revenue.”
“If you have no revenue, you do not have a balanced plan. That was the whole essence of Simpson-Bowles. And that, the president, I think, did embrace,” he insisted.
Asked by Cavuto whether former President Clinton’s scheduled address to the Democratic convention Wednesday night could hurt Obama by reminding voters “what a successful Democratic president was,” Richardson said Clinton was successful because he pursued the same balanced approach to budget issues that Obama has tried to negotiate with Republicans.
“President Clinton will, I think, lift everyone`s spirit,” Richardson said. “He was a good president, an economic, balanced budget president. And President Obama, I believe, has been a very good president, too, and we will get reelected. You watch.”
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