Although our government did not ultimately shut down this week, President Obama has to begin to show leadership over the budget process.
Frankly, our long-term fiscal problems are too serious for the president to take a hands-off approach going forward.
It is my view that the president must learn a lesson from this fight over the shutdown that he simply cannot try to parachute in at the end, after months of being largely absent from any serious efforts to provide either short term or long term fiscal planning and management for the United States.
Although this most recent battle over the Continuing Resolution to fund the government through September has been resolved successfully, both sides will still need to come together to talk about how to deal with the long-term issue of our $1.5 trillion dollar federal budget deficit.
Paul Ryan’s proposal to cut $6.2 trillion dollars from the budget is a step in the right direction. It is too extreme to be sure, and does not do enough on the revenue side as the Bowles-Simpson plan did, but --as New York Times columnist David Brooks has suggested -- it is certainly a conversation starter.
Reaching a long-term, meaningful, balanced budget deal will require presidential leadership, and it will not be enough for Mr. Obama to stand back and hope that the Congressional leadership reaches an agreement, or to jump in at the last minute to try to resolve the situation – as he has done most recently.
Rather, he has to get involved, and provide leadership to try to get a long-term balanced budget deal that protects key social programs, all the while recognizing the reality that we simply cannot afford to continue to do what we’ve been doing –in terms of health care, in terms of the military or in terms of our domestic priorities.
More generally, the budget controversy and the fight over the Continuing Resolution must serve as a wakeup call for both sides to get serious about our long-term and indeed, more serious financial problems.
If not, both sides face punishment from the electorate in ways that are hard to anticipate but are sure to happen.
Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist and Fox News contributor. His most recent book is "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System" published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins. Arielle Alter Confino contributed to this piece.