After Wednesday's Speech Obama Needs to Change Course and Embrace the Gang of Six's Plan

By attacking the Republican proposal unveiled last week by GOP Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin in the manner he did Mr. Obama has further emphasized the partisan divide.

Moreover, rather than seeking to bring the country together this week with his speech on deficit reduction, the president opted instead to propose specific tax increases that he knows will have no hope of winning broad-based support.

This is unfortunate, unconstructive, and unhelpful.

When I worked for President Clinton, we made it clear that we differed with Republicans but we wanted negotiations and a constructive solution – a solution that ultimately balanced the budget by the time he left office.

President Obama’s speech not only failed to offer much in the way of specifics, he offered a number of recommendations in a number of areas that simply do not make sense.

There was no specificity associated with the defense cuts we are facing. And while it may well be that the defense budget can be cut, the lack of specificity was troubling and disconcerting in the face of two active conflicts and a third one in Libya.

The failure to outline specific entitlement reforms is also discouraging in the face of specific criticism of Representative Ryan’s plan.

To be sure, the Ryan plan certainly goes too far for me and most Democrats. But demagoguing about it is also unhelpful.

A couple of the specifics on health care were particularly disquieting. The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) takes out of the hands of Congress solutions to our health care process, and removes the normal controls that Congressional checks and balances would provide.

Opponents of IPAB include the American Medical Association, as well as more than 100 Democrat and Republican members of the House of Representatives – all of whom have made clear that this is not the way we should be moving forward.

More troubling to me is that we need innovation in our health care system. And we need protection of biopharmaceutical research.

The plan would reduce the twelve years of protection for pharmaceutical companies and biotech companies that invest, would jeopardize the incentives companies have to fund research and develop future cures, and would basically make the development of new drug plans more fundamental.

We must adopt a national commitment to long-term policies that cultivate innovative sectors like biotechnology to improve health, lower the cost of doing business and set this country up for sustainable job growth.

The combination of private investment in medical research and innovation, along with federal funding and strong public-private partnerships can create jobs that help stimulate local economies, bring down our deficit, reduce health care costs and positively impact other industries.

Nowhere is there a better opportunity to regain our competitive position, address skyrocketing deficits and health care costs, and help drive growth across every sector of our economy than our medical innovation enterprise by encouraging and facilitating the innovation and development of new drugs, new medical technologies, and further scientific research and development.

More generally what the president needs to do is to change course and embrace the direction of the Gang of Six’s plan which is based on the Bowles-Simpson debt commission recommendations to cut nearly $4 trillion off the deficit with tax increases, cuts in spending and entitlement reforms.

Simply put, this is our country's greatest hope to come out from the economic recession healthier, stronger, and more competitive.

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.