I was feeling a little down today about the challenging budget I am working on this Summer, until I had a chance to talk with someone who has a tougher job than mine: President Obama.
He took a few minutes from the non stop budget talks in Washington to have a phone conference with a group of Mayors—Democrats, Republicans, Independents.
The President started by saying that we can’t mess around with the economy and play brinksmanship with the debt. He said as a leader of divided government he is willing to make some compromise to get our fiscal house in order “That’s the form of government we have,” he said.
But there will have to be a balanced approach, he said. “There will have to be shared sacrifices,” that will not fall “just on middle class people trying to send kids to college but more on those who can most afford it.”
The President made clear he is making no proposal to increase taxes now….don’t believe anyone saying he is….His only tax proposals would go into effect in future years when the economy is stronger.
He said he will make tough decisions that may not please all his supporters, but will also continue to stand up for progressive principles, including focusing future tax increases on the richest, eliminating tax cuts for luxury items like private jets, creating an infrastructure bank that can put people to work and making sure all parts of the budget are cut equally. (“The defense budget will have to be on the table. This can’t fall on education.”)
As he got into the details of what he is trying to do, how he is trying to bring together people with wildly divergent views in an effort to get something done, he sounded almost like a Mayor. That, from me, is a big compliment.