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Why did Obama wait so long for deficit talk?

April 14, 2011|By Peter Nicholas
(William Auth/Getty Images )

Much speculation surrounds the timing of Obama’s speech Wednesday on deficit reduction. His own deficit reduction commission came out with a report way back in December. So, why the delay?

Was Obama waiting until Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) came out with the Republican spending plan?

Or had he held back because he didn’t want to give the speech at all, relenting only when the pressure to say something about the deficit became politically unbearable?

In an interview Thursday, a senior White House official said there was a reason for the timing -- but nothing so Machiavellian.

The White House had been planning as early as January for a presidential speech on the long-term deficit. But aides wanted to wait until the completion of the 2011 budget negotiations. That  took a while. Congress and the White House didn’t reach a deal until  April 8th.

“Our plan was to deal with the short-term budget situation first, and then pivot to the long-term,’’ said a White House advisor. “And this was how long it took to finish the short-term.’’

Still, it didn’t necessarily hurt that Ryan went first, presenting Obama a ripe target when he delivered his own speech.

Ryan’s budget proposal “clarifies the scope of the issue,’’ the White House advisor said.

peter.nicholas@latimes.com

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