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Prominent presidential adviser speaks in Truckee

Wendy Lautner
Special to the Sun

Dr. David Abshire, president of the Center for the Study of Presidency and Congress and author of many books including his latest entitled “A Call to Greatness: Challenging Our Next President,” recently made a stop in Truckee at For Goodness Sake.

During his approximately one-hour lecture on Thursday, April 23, Abshire shared his views of the current presidential administration and addressed what he termed the crucial “pivot point” in government spending as well as made a case for the establishment of an independent commission modeled after the Military Bases Closing Commission to oversee a portion of federal financial concerns.

Dr. Abshire was invited to Truckee by resident Joe Smith who is the director of a recently founded nonprofit organization called FOCUS, a grassroots citizens’ alliance dedicated to transforming America through civic and social responsibility.

“We believe the Center can provide information on critical issues national in scope and FOCUS can provide information to the Center on ways Tahoe/Truckee is addressing the challenges related to social, economic and political concerns,” Smith said of the synergy between FOCUS and the Center for the Study of Presidency and Congress.

Abshire graduated from West Point in 1951 and was a decorated company commander of the Korean War. He has served as Congressional staff from 1958-60 and as assistant secretary of state for Congressional Relations from 1970-73. He was the U.N. Ambassador to NATO from 1983 to 1987 and served as a special counselor to President Reagan in 1987. Currently, Dr. Abshire is a member of the Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council as well as the president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.

Abshire’s message to the 40 or so attendants was clear: “There’s good news and there’s bad news. And I think the good news is the President,” he said referring to President Obama.

A lifelong Republican who’s played an advisory role to five different presidents throughout his career, Abshire praised President Obama’s early efforts in office to “move to the center to unite” often comparing his actions to that of President Abraham Lincoln.

However, Abshire’s message was more than just beaming about Obama. In quoting a personal friend of his and New York Times columnist David Brooks, Abshire said, “Obama imposes hard choices on others but postpones his own,” in reference to running a responsible federal budget that is not based solely on borrowing.

“You had to move into deficit spending on all of this with the understanding that when you hit good times you have to do the opposite, which is to balance the budget and put the house in order,” Abshire said. “You’ve got to pivot – like Abraham Lincoln knew how to pivot.”

Abshire, who’s spent his entire career studying the success and failures of United States’ presidents, insisted this “pivot point” would be the definition of a truly great transformational president.

In addition, Abshire proposed an independent commission “that looks at entitlements, Medicare and changes to the tax code favoring savings and investment over consumption.”

“In facing the fiscal course we’re on ” which is heading for train wreck ” you’ve got to have such a commission,” Abshire said. Insisting that Congress, steeped in partisanship, is unable to consistently make the best possible decision for the majority, Abshire argued an independent commission would make unbiased recommendations to present to Congress for up or down votes.

The Center of the Study of Presidency and Congress has also published a short handbook of its recommendations entitled, “Saving America’s Future,” which is available at For Goodness Sake, located at 10157 Donner Pass Road in Truckee. For more information on FOCUS please e-mail joe@foc-us.org.


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