Budget Hawk MacGuineas Fears She May Rue What She Wished For

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, with Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, in Washington, D.C.

So-called deficit hawks have  pined for a big election-year debate over their cherished goal of getting the government’s books in order, a dialogue in which lawmakers and voters alike grapple in detail with the tough choice needed.

With House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan now on the Republican presidential ticket, they’ve got it. Could that end up being a bad thing?

Maya MacGuineas, head of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, says she’s concerned candidates focused on the bottom line of winning in November will stake out uncompromising positions on touchy issues that will just make it harder to strike a deal after the election.

Just look, MacGuineas said, at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recent television ad blasting President Barack Obama for cutting more than $700 billion out of Medicare.

“We’re going to have to cut Medicare,” she said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “Conversations With Judy Woodruff” airing this weekend. “We have to reform Medicare and part of that is going to be spending less money on it.”

Saying that both Obama and Romney know that, shes added that “if we start seeing those political ads — which we know we’re going to see — talking about how the other guy’s willing to take a whack at Medicare, it is going to make a real fix so much harder.”

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