NY Mag's Heilemann: Obama's the Only Serious Adult in Deficit Reduction Conversation

New York magazine's John Heilemann said this weekend that President Obama is the only serious adult in the deficit reduction conversation now going on in Washington.

This deliciously came seconds before Heilemann told other guests on the syndicated "Chris Matthews Show," "I have been dispirited by the lack of strategy on the part of the White House since the midterm elections...specifically on this [issue]" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: I'm looking at debt in other countries. It's not imaginative to see our country being in trouble in this.

JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: And not even in the long term. We could have a sovereign debt crisis where the external financial markets globally impose pain on us in a much shorter period of time than 20 or 30 years from now. But the point that Andrea’s making and that all of us are making is that this is why it comes back to President Obama because the Republicans are not serious about deficit reduction as Andrea said. Democrats are not enthusiastic about it for all the reasons that we know in terms of their weddedness to entitlement programs. The President is the only really serious adult in this conversation. And against all of that, if he really thinks this is important, it is going to take an act of extraordinary political leadership and risk for him to do this.

MATTHEWS: You are so smart.

ANDREW SULLIVAN, THE ATLANTIC: State of the Union, he should say in my view, “Two years, my two years of this last term, of this term will be devoted entirely to tackling our long-term debt. I will take the hit. I will be a one term President.

MATTHEWS: Boy, that, you're not president, but that's the script. You’ve just read the script. Let's take a look at the Matthews Meter. We’ve bottom-lined it with the Meter. Twelve of our regulars including Andrea, John, and Andrew. Could President Obama command a national movement to get a sweeping debt reduction plan passed by Congress? It's tied. I hate ties, but it is. 6-6. But of the Meter, the three here today of you three, Andrea, Andrew, and John, you all are yeses. Now, do you think the President, you say that intellectually he knows this is the challenge of his presidency, the next two years in the last, first term, to reduce the national debt, to command an army in doing this. My question, will he?

HEILEMANN: I have been dispirited by the lack of strategy on the part of the White House since the midterm elections.

MATTHEWS: Generally?

HEILEMANN: Generally and more specifically on this. They did not, they did not manage this commission very well. I think that they missed Rahm Emanuel, and I think would have managed this commission in a much more hands-on way. It worries me, it worries me that he is not going to do it. But as I say, I think he could, and I think he knows how important it is and that it could be actually a political winner for him if he can get everyone to hold hands and jump off the cliff together.

So, Obama's the only really serious adult in this conversation, but his strategy since the midterms has been lacking, he didn't manage the deficit commission very well, and Heilemann is worried he's not going to do anything to solve the problem.

So what exactly makes Obama the only really serious adult in this conversation? I guess you could say he was an adult before he was a child. 

Beyond this, how can a President that has shown a staggering lack of concern for the deficit since Inauguration Day be in any way labeled a serious adult when it comes to fiscal restraint?

If this is the only serious adult in the room, we must be looking at a kindergarten class without a teacher. 

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.