To his credit, the President held a fiscal responsibility summit yesterday at the White House.  The basic story can be found in a Washington Post story entitled Health Care Tops Fiscal Need List.  Dana Milbank in his Washington Post column today reports that it was sparsely attended. 

While not the serious effort it was perhaps first conceived as being, the 3 1/2 hour meeting was important.  It signalled that the President understands there’s a problem that needs to be addressed and it certainly helped to educate America about the problem.  The President is to be commended for the effort.

Defusing the ticking time bomb that is our entitlements crisis will be complicated.  It is the raison d’etre for the Peter G. Peterson foundation of which I’ve previously written.  They are doing important work bringing the crisis to the nation’s attention and keeping it on the radar screen.  They launched a new ad campaignyesterday featuring an iceberg.  On their website you can also sign a petition thanking President Obama for holding yesterday’s summit. 

The liberals are striking back, however.  In a column in yesterday’s Washington Post, Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect decries The Deficit Hawks’ Attack on Our Entitlements.  Forget about deficits he seems to say.  If we get our economy back on track we’ll be fine, and by the way, the country needs needs its entitlement programs just as they are.  “The attack on social insurance is really an ideological assault, dressed up as fiscal high-mindedness.”  Peter G. Peterson gets special critical mention.  

So, according to Mr. Kuttner, presenting the liberal case, the entire point of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation is to conduct an ideological assault on our country’s entitlements programs.  The fact is we have a serious problem in America.  It can’t be ignored.  It doesn’t mean gutting our social safety net, but it does mean mending it.  This was all enough of a concern to the former head of the General Accounting Office, David M. Walker, that he left GAO to head up the the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.  There’s an interesting piece on David M. Walker in today’s Washington Post, entitled Internal Gadfly Tries Other Side.  Somehow Mr. Walker doesn’t strike me as a right wing ideologue.  Does he you?