Lynn professor gets inside look at the deficit and U.S. policy while at the White House

Watson attended policy briefings on the debt ceiling, budget negotiations and education
Lynn professor gets inside look at the deficit and U.S. policy while at the White House President Obama addresses Community Leaders Briefing Series participants, including Robert Watson

Published Aug. 02, 2011

Robert Watson, professor of American Studies in Lynn University’s College of Liberal Education, was recently invited to the White House for a two-day behind-the-scenes community leaders briefing series. While in the Capitol City, he participated in several policy briefings conducted by President Obama, the deputy director of NASA and a senior economist, among other senior advisors.

“Much of the conversation focused on the debt ceiling, budget negotiations and education,” said Watson.

Reducing the Deficit

Watson at White HouseWatson and other policy briefing participants were given details regarding the White House’s proposal to the Congress on “shared sacrifice,” the balance of spending cuts and revenue increases they put on the table. In addition, they were informed about the latest counter offers and points of disagreement from the Republicans.

“With so many numbers and proposals floating around in the press – and especially online – it was helpful to get the information directly from the source,” said Watson. 

According to Watson, there is no ‘magic bullet’ or one ‘quick fix’ for the complex deficit reduction problem.

To reduce the deficit, Watson favors:
  • a long-term approach that spreads the pain or responsibility equally among programs and groups
  • a mix of spending cuts and tax increases
  • picking the low-hanging fruit first – items like closing loopholes for the richest among us and biggest corporations, and returning the tax rates to where they were during the 1990s for families making over a quarter of a million dollars a year

“These tactics will not solve our budget woes,” said Watson, “but it will bring in billions, will not harm the middle class, and symbolically, it is something all Americans should get behind before we state the more difficult take of cutting important domestic programs.”

community leaders briefing series

The White House Community Leaders Briefing Series is a brand-new initiative designed to provide community leaders who participate in public policy debates with intensive briefings on the issues. With the rise of misinformation being distributed to the public, the briefings will keep key public communicators abreast of the latest policy debates. In addition, the program will allow White House representatives to get feedback and ideas directly from the public.

Watson who is deeply involved in civic education and civic engagement locally (in the South Florida community), nationally and internationally was a natural fit to participate in the program.

“It is very rare day when I am not out in the public discussing politics,” said Watson who offers approximately 125 public lectures and town halls annually, serves as the political analyst for Palm Beach’s NBC affiliate (WPTV), and writes a Sunday column for the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, among other community and media activities.

The main take-away from Watson’s experience at the White House was the number of initiatives and programs Obama’s administration is working on.

“I have said for more than two years now that one really needs to go back to Lyndon B. Johnson and Franklin D. Roosevelt to find a similar example of the sheer volume of domestic and foreign policies and accomplishments,” said Watson.

“I have toured every site in the Capital City and met with members of Congress, but this was the first time I was invited into the White House to talk politics with the President and his staff,” said Watson. “It was a dream come true.”

This summer, Watson has participated in five conference calls with the White House to discuss various topics and to provide updates/briefings on the negotiations. He hopes to continue his involvement.

More on Watson:

Robert Watson is one of the foremost experts and authors on first ladies, presidents, and Florida politics and voting issues. He has published more than 30 books on American politics and history.

In this role, Watson is frequently interviewed by local and national TV, print and radio media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, USA Today and The New York Times, addressing topics surrounding the first ladies of today, yesterday and tomorrow, how history may judge former President Bush (and the war on terrorism), how past White House scandals have not affected the nation, the accomplishments and criticisms of President Obama, the deficit and other political issues and policies.