Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, co-chairmen of the president’s debt reduction commission, took to the op-ed pages of Washington Post yesterday to defend the president’s budget. Sort of.  

“There’s still hope for dealing with our debt challenges,” is the not-very-upbeat headline. But then the two commissioners deliver the good news: 

To be sure, the president’s budget doesn’t go nearly far enough in addressing the nation’s fiscal challenges. In fact, it goes nowhere close. But we see the cup as half-full – and think there is the real possibility that a bipartisan deficit reduction plan can make it to the president’s desk by year’s end.

More encouraging news:

The five-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending does not go nearly as far as the discretionary cuts we proposed, but it moves in the right direction.

Still, don’t get too euphoric because:

Sadly, the president does punt on the larger issues.

After noting such positive aspects of the president’s budget, Erskine and Bowles express hope:

The real test is whether [President Obama] follows through on these good intentions.

I can’t help thinking that what Bowles and Simpson are counting on is…that the Republicans will stage one hell of a fight and save us from financial ruin. Of course, that is not how they put it:

A bipartisan process is where this must start….

What will this require? Well, “trust and respect” will be necessary. This process will require getting “the right people in the room.” (May I nominate Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP budget whiz from Wisconsin?) A sine qua non will be “negotiating in good faith.” But even Pollyanna Bowles and Pollyanna Simpson do allow some reality to creep in at the end:

Now is the moment of truth. The era of deficit denial is over. We are counting on our nation’s leaders to rise to the challenge.

Awww, another moment of truth. Here’s my other thought: On what leaders do you suppose Bowles and Simpson are pinning their hopes? Somehow I don’t think it’s going to be the Punter-in-Chief. My guess is even they know that by now.