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Wanted: fiddlers

I figured out what Washington needs to solve the deficit problem: Charlie Daniels. Because it is clear that once again our political leaders do not want real answers as much as they want more folks to help them fiddle while Rome burns.

Contact the Nobel committee, because I’m a shoo-in for the economics prize. I figured out what Washington needs to solve the deficit problem: Charlie Daniels. Or maybe some of those Celtic women. Because it is clear that once again our political leaders do not want real answers as much as they want more folks to help them fiddle while Rome burns.

Amid the cherry blossoms and scattered spring sunshine, you can fairly smell the smoke these days as both parties plink, plunk, and saw themselves into tune.

President Obama gave a speech that struck an awful lot of political watchers (and not just his Republican critics) as less about the deficit than it was about getting re-elected. So it was long on go-America imagery, rife with let’s-take-an-ax-handle-to-the rich populism, and woefully short on here’s-how-this-will-actually-work details.

On the Republican side, economic and political analysts seemed suitably impressed with the boldness of Rep. Paul Ryan’s chainsaw attack on the deficit; and yet it seems, in its own way, like a facade. Truth be told, such Draconian measures are given precious little hope of passage, so as bold as they may be, they essentially constitute a fairytale.

In short, both sides are doing what they’ve always done best. They are posturing. They are screaming about the falling sky and suggesting the other side will somehow make it fall faster. But no one is really passing out umbrellas. Or at least not umbrellas that will offer any real protection.

Oh sure, they will all argue that it is just a start, and that is true in the same sense that I could walk to the soda machine and say, “I’ve started my trip to L.A.!” But tackling the deficit is going to require such hard, long-term, bipartisan commitments, it is difficult to imagine that a year from now any of the plans favored by Democrats or Republicans will get us substantially closer to that goal.

Still, the fiddling is fun to listen to, and it goes so nicely with the crackling fire.

–CNN’s Tom Foreman is a regular on “AC360°”/www.ac360.com and “The Situation Room.”

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