Reid is right, but…

There is a real danger that the economy will collapse within six months. This could be caused by a further jobs and growth collapse in America and Europe. It could be caused by a debt-induced collapse cascading from European governments and banks back to the U.S. in a reverse rerun of 2007 and 2008.

Regarding the supercommittee, I agree with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) that the primary cause of the collapse was the near-religious GOP refusal to limit tax cuts for the wealthy, but:

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Let’s call a timeout in the blame game and consider a dramatic first step to avoid an economic collapse that is now a grave and imminent danger to the U.S. and Europe. I repeat my warning from last week's column. Economists from the San Francisco Fed now warn that the odds of a new recession, on top of the current recession or depression that already exists for tens of millions of Americans, are greater than 50-50 for early 2012.

The president must lead. Both parties are playing Russian roulette with half the chambers of the gun loaded with the real bullets of an economic collapse. I suggest Plan B:

President Obama should invite the following Republicans to a public, televised, White House roundtable discussion about the future of the American economy:

Former Sen. Alan Simpson, former Sen. Pete Domenici, former Senate Majority leader Bob Dole, former Sen. Warren Rudman, former Sen. John Danforth, former Senate Majority Leader and Reagan White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker, former Reagan White House Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein, former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, former Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz, former Reagan National Security Adviser and Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell and former White House Chief of Staff, Treasury Secretary and Secretary of State James Baker.

Why do I propose the president begin by meeting, very publicly and apolitically, with these Republicans?

I was privileged and educated by having worked for some of the wisest leaders in the nation, including then-Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and House Democratic leaders, beginning when Reagan and Tip O'Neill were concluding their transcendent deals.

In my years in this town I have learned that the peacemakers are blessed, but so are the dealmakers. We could use a few more people like Clark Clifford, Bob Strauss and Jim Baker. I would like to see Obama turn even more to Tom Daschle to play this role.

Dole, Domenici, Simpson, Kassebaum, Powell, Danforth, Shultz, Rudman, Duberstein, Howard Baker and Jim Baker are among the most brilliant and talented people who have served in this town in my lifetime. They have vast experience, great achievements and long histories of working respectfully across the aisle in ways that can transcend the divisions that plague us today.

I suggest the president invite them all to the White House for a serious, intelligent and respectful conversation about the economic challenges facing the nation. This conversation should be open to the public and without the rancor of partisan politics. They should discuss policies to create jobs and lower deficits at a time of economic crisis, and take those policies to Congress and CEOs.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. Where there is no confidence, the economy crashes.

We can and will debate which party is to blame for the economic morass, but we should and must discuss the way out of our economic wilderness.

The president should reach out to the Republicans I name in this column. Their judgment, experience, and good faith have served this country well and can help restore the confidence and trust that is dangerously lacking today.



Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.