Obama to offer “scalpel, not machete” for entitlement reform

posted at 9:30 am on April 11, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama has belatedly discovered that Americans want to see reductions in government spending.  How else to explain David Plouffe’s appearance on a series of talk shows yesterday announcing that the President would unveil a new proposal this week to counter Paul Ryan’s roadmap on entitlement reform?  However, it seems as though Obama still hasn’t figured out the scale of the problem:

In an effort to go on the offensive in the battle over government spending, Obama will look for cuts in “all corners of government,” senior adviser David Plouffesaid on several Sunday talk shows.

Although Obama’s health-care law is projected to curtail Medicare spending over time, “we have to do more,” Plouffe said Sunday, marking the first time the administration has made an explicit commitment to changes in entitlement programs for the purpose of deficit reduction.

Contrasting the president’s approach with what Republican leaders have put forward, Plouffe said Obama will use a “scalpel” and not a “machete” as he seeks to preserve funding for education and other areas he considers crucial to the country’s long-term economic success.

Well, scalpels are fine when the problem comprises a small part of the overall whole.  The federal budget deficit now runs $1.6 trillion, and we’re borrowing 40% of all the money we spend each year.  If 40% of a patient had gangrene, to use Plouffe’s analogy, using a scalpel to trim off the edges would leave one with a dead patient.

Recall that Barack Obama just delivered a ten-year projection for his spending plan with the FY2012 budget proposal last month.  His plan didn’t envision any systemic reform of entitlement spending beyond his fanciful estimations of ObamaCare on Medicare.  With his base already in revolt over the tax deal (and afterward, Libya), Obama had no desire to engage in a debate on entitlements.  Ryan’s plan has put Obama on the defensive, and the White House is playing catch-up.

Now that Obama is acknowledging the need for budget cuts and the role of entitlements in the deficit/debt crisis, he’s stuck.  The White House has to offer a plan that actually cuts entitlement spending enough to close the deficit gap, or they have to raise revenues.  The question isn’t whether a machete gets used, it’s a question of where they plan to use the machete — on entitlement spending, or on taxpayers?  Now that Obama has engaged on the issue, those are the only two choices he has.

Update: Jen Rubin pronounces the Obama do-over on the budget “pathetic.”  I don’t disagree, but it’s useful as an indicator of just how much the paradigm has changed.


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Comment pages: 1 2

The agenda will be, raise taxes or we kill granny and burn down the schools.

PattyJ on April 11, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Obummer wont touch entitlements. He will go wildly after defense spending and then make Boehner choose between defense and social programs. I know which way I’d go…

stuartm650 on April 11, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Here what will happen.

The deficit will be erased some day. This will be done via 80% tax increases and 20% spending cuts. Boehner will make sure of it.

angryed on April 11, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Obummer wont touch entitlements. He will go wildly after defense spending and then make Boehner choose between defense and social programs. I know which way I’d go…

stuartm650 on April 11, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Easy choice. Use a machete on entitlements.

Conservative Samizdat on April 11, 2011 at 12:24 PM

That picture looks like Obama is urinating on the flag.

Just sayin’.

eforhan on April 11, 2011 at 12:27 PM

The thing about cutting defense is they never cut the fraud, waste, and abuse out. They cut the benefits for the families. I don’t mind cutting defense but go after the fraud and waste because it is out there.

Brat4life on April 11, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Semi-off topic:

How much of that stimulus “we have to pass now or unemployment will go over 8% blah blah” remains unspent? Isn’t it around 300 billion?

No one, not even the republicans, are talking about this enormous Soetoro slush fund.

Rebar on April 11, 2011 at 12:49 PM

eforhan on April 11, 2011 at 12:27 PM

LOL

ladyingray on April 11, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Screw the scalpel and machete, we need a bone saw. It’s time to amputate.

jhffmn on April 11, 2011 at 12:56 PM

Plouffe said Obama will use a “scalpel” and not a “machete” as he seeks to preserve funding for education and other areas he considers crucial to the country’s long-term economic success.

Oh, you mean like funding the unions…?

Dopenstrange on April 11, 2011 at 12:57 PM

(1) we now need a chainsaw instead of a scalpel, (2) a promise of a cut is not a cut, and (2) a butter knife is not a scalpel.

apostic on April 11, 2011 at 9:45 AM

and a donut without a hole is a danish

Ditkaca on April 11, 2011 at 1:07 PM

I find it so interesting that it was not the Presidents Secretary of the Treasury or OMB Director announcing this yesterday, but his top political advisor. Anyone else find that interesting?

You know Timmy is busy this week with Turbo Tax

Ditkaca on April 11, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Speaking of scalpels …

In pictures, Obama appears to have a long scar which goes up the side of his head and over his crown.

Some conspiracy theorists claim they are scars that you would see on someone who has had brain surgery.

no, I think it’s just a bad haircut

J_Crater on April 11, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Obama to offer “scalpel, not machete” for entitlement reform

But Obama and the Democrats are all too willing to take a machete to our family budgets with huge tax increases and skyrocketing energy prices.

RJL on April 11, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Scalpel nothing. We need a plasma cutter. Try this analogy. We (the American populace) are Isaac Clarke from the Dead Space games, the govt is a giant bloated necromorph, determined to chase us down and suck the last bits of (economic) life out of us. We need to take that plasma cutter and blast that thing back down to a more manageable size.

/Nerd off

Btw the scalpel analogy was lame in 08 and its lame now.

SG1_Conservative on April 11, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Scalpel?

If you don’t get a clue soon about how dire our economic debt picture is, all you’ll need is a body bag.

VelvetElvis on April 11, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Obowma spending 3 trillion in 2 years already shows he is serious…..seriously flawed and destructive.

dthorny on April 12, 2011 at 8:29 AM

That picture looks like Obama is urinating on the flag.

Just sayin’.

eforhan on April 11, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Nah, he’s just tappin’.

dthorny on April 12, 2011 at 8:31 AM

ENTITLEMENT REFORM? What in hell does that mean? Since the 2010 elections about 100 days ago I have heard nothing else. Entitlements for whom? The 65 year old man who worked for 50 years and expects $1600 month social security check?
Or the 35 year old mother who gets 250 dollars a month in food stamps and an additional 275 dollars a month in state subsistance?

ENTITLEMENT REFORM?
Take company taxes to 0%
Just an income tax. Some one owns the company.
Elimanate all other taxes on companies.
Treat capital gains and divedends like income.
Who ever makes money should pay the tax.
I am teling you that something is wrong when some companies pay less than 4% when others pay 35%.

I will post later about energy and jobs.

TomLawler on April 13, 2011 at 12:04 PM

I just reread my privious post. That has to be the most muddled comment I ever made. The point I was tring to make is that conservatives like myself do not want to eliminate help to those who need it. It just seems that every time paul Ryan talks about entitlement REFORM the left and thier allies in the msm go nuts.

TomLawler on April 14, 2011 at 3:52 AM

Comment pages: 1 2