Photo: AP/Alex Brandon
There was an incident on Fox Business yesterday, where anchors Liz Claman and David Asman got upset because they were supposed to interview Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who canceled at the last second, instead talking exclusively to rival CNBC.MediaBistro has some of the commentary from the pair:
“They made a commitment, and Alan Simpson’s people and the PR people for Fix the Debt — specifically Beth Sullivan — have not allowed them to come to speak to you on Fox Business,” Claman said as the network showed a live shot of two empty chairs. “Apparently, David, they don’t want to fix the debt that badly.”
“The point is is that the debate that we’re involved in now, a really historic debate, is not exclusive to anybody,” Asman added. “It’s a debate that all networks, that all individuals, are interested in. And if they’re interested in getting their message out, they should not consider themselves exclusive to one party.”
The truth of the matter is that Asman and Claman should consider themselves lucky. In fact, all networks should completely ignore Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles for the next couple of months.
Here’s why: Simpson and Bowles are the heads of the “Fix The Debt” campaign, which proposes long-term changes to entitlements and the tax code, so as to “fix the debt.” Now we can debate whether their approach is wise, or whether the debt needs fixing in the way they imagine, but whatever, it is what it is. They certainly have the right to try pushing fiscal policy in their preferred direction. Best of luck to them.
But this long-term Fix The Debt stuff has zero relevance to the short-term issues, which is really about finding a way to fix the attempt to fix the debt. In other words, if you just want to fix the debt, we have a plan in place for spending cuts and tax hikes and they’ll go into place in a few weeks. What we need to do is come up with a plan to not fix the debt right now, and to figure out how to avoid the austerity that seems baked in the cake.
Simpson and Bowles are really terribly confusing messengers on this point, because they can’t simultaneously argue (cogently) for fixing the debt and fixing the fixing of the debt. They’re terribly muddled on this point.
So, CNBC, Fox Biz, Business Insider, WSJ, and everyone else… let’s just ignore Simpson and Bowles for the next few weeks. After we avoid the coming austerity, they can come back and make their cases for long-term changes.
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