Are they seriously going to cut entitlements in the debt-ceiling deal?

posted at 6:35 pm on July 7, 2011 by Allahpundit

Paul Ryan’s giving a Facebook townhall at 7 p.m. ET and, since he’s bound to talk about the debt ceiling saga, I’m going to have this double as open thread for people watching. The livestream is embedded below or, if you’d rather watch in a separate tab, click right here. Can’t wait to see what Mr. Entitlement Reform makes of the curveball Obama threw this morning:

As part of his pitch, Obama is proposing significant reductions in Medicare spending and for the first time is offering to tackle the rising cost of Social Security, according to people in both parties with knowledge of the proposal. The move marks a major shift for the White House and could present a direct challenge to Democratic lawmakers who have vowed to protect health and retirement benefits from the assault on government spending.

“Obviously, there will be some Democrats who don’t believe we need to do entitlement reform. But there seems to be some hunger to do something of some significance,” said a Democratic official familiar with the administration’s thinking. “These moments come along at most once a decade. And it would be a real mistake if we let it pass us by.”…

Privately, some congressional Democrats were alarmed by the president’s proposal, which could include adjusting the measure of inflation used to determine Social Security payouts. But others described it as primarily a bargaining strategy intended to demonstrate Obama’s willingness to compromise and highlight the Republican refusal to raise taxes.

The proposed reform to Social Security, is, predictably economically pedestrian and just as predictably cause for angry table-pounding among House liberals. As for the rest of the deal, it’s anyone’s guess at the moment: Boehner and Peter King sounded optimistic about a bargain this morning but Obama insists they’re still “far apart.” All they’ve agreed on, allegedly, is that they want to go big, with no less than $3 trillion in total savings and maybe upwards of $4.5 trillion depending upon what happens in their meeting on Sunday. That’s smart politics from the Democrats, actually: It lets them share the “deficit hawk” label and it also adds pressure on the GOP to agree to revenue raisers. The higher the overall target is, the more creative Republicans will need to be to reach it. Which, maybe, is why we’re suddenly hearing about massive cuts in defense spending over the next 10 years. The GOP won’t cave on taxes but, to make a deal, they might cave on that. Watch for it on Sunday.

The X factor, then, is Medicare, and the left naturally is squealing about Obama stabbing them in the back, but as noted in the blockquote, it’s almost certainly a bluff. For one thing, Obama and Boehner will need some number of Democrats to get a deal through the House as plenty of Republican tea-party freshmen are bound to reject the package for various reasons. (Obama’s already planning to meet privately with Pelosi, no doubt to line up the necessary votes.) The harder the deal is on entitlements, the harder it’ll be to get the critical mass of Dems they need, which means … it can’t be all that hard on entitlements. Also, and needless to say, barring a major economic rebound, the party’s entire election strategy next year rests on demagoging Ryan’s plan; they’re not going to trade away that advantage, especially as part of a deal that won’t fix the program long-term anyway. And given the polling, why would they?

They can’t afford major entitlements cuts but, per this frightening James Pethokoukis post, they can’t afford not to cut either. Good politics vs. good policy: How I wonder which they’ll choose.

Here’s the Ryan livestream.


Watch it all LIVE on USTREAM

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Are they seriously going to cut entitlements in the debt-ceiling deal?

Surely you jest.

Rod on July 7, 2011 at 6:39 PM

I think he is talking about cutting Medicare payments to hospitals. The reason the hospitals get paid is because Congress forces them to accept all comers through EMTALA and they would go out of business if they did not get paid. That is epolitically asier in the short run than grandma not getting her hip replaced. However, closing hospitals in communities is not good for competition and it is not good for people to have less access and less choice. Bad idea.

txmomof6 on July 7, 2011 at 6:39 PM

Uh Oh. Obama wants to push wheel chair bound Grandma Over the cliff to gain a second term.

portlandon on July 7, 2011 at 6:39 PM

smoke and mirrors. no one can believe these people anymore. everything they say is a lie.

unseen on July 7, 2011 at 6:39 PM

epolitically asier s/b politically easier. Should’ve used preview!

txmomof6 on July 7, 2011 at 6:40 PM

LOL…that picture is PRICELESS!

Catherine Wilkinson on July 7, 2011 at 6:40 PM

The move marks a major shift for the White House and could present a direct challenge to Democratic lawmakers who have vowed to protect health and retirement benefits from the assault on government spending.

Keep the deck chairs on the Titanic just where they are..

Chip on July 7, 2011 at 6:41 PM

Also, and needless to say, barring a major economic rebound, the party’s entire election strategy next year rests on demagoging Ryan’s plan; they’re not going to trade away that advantage, especially as part of a deal that won’t fix the program long-term anyway. And given the polling, why would they?

And that rebound is less likely with more taxation.

Chip on July 7, 2011 at 6:43 PM

I suspect the social security reform he will propose is one he has already proposed, which is removing the limit on the maximum amount that is subject to the SS tax, which then makes it just another income tax.

txmomof6 on July 7, 2011 at 6:44 PM

Chip on July 7, 2011 at 6:43 PM
It is all about the O. He showed in the leadup to the midterms he did not care if his policies cost House members their seats. He only cares about his reelection chances.

txmomof6 on July 7, 2011 at 6:46 PM

The GOP will cave…..Obama will win…..Media will proclaim awesome “leadership” by BHO.

Insert any issue in the last 2 1/2 years and the statement above holds true.

PappyD61 on July 7, 2011 at 6:46 PM

Bill Crystal on the Fox panel just said the GOP will cave, and are intimidated by Barry.

Knucklehead on July 7, 2011 at 6:47 PM

Good Politics but for me it is a relative term. Like a caller to Rush said today, let’s see some cuts and the revenue enhancements can come in ten or twelve years after certain goals have been met. I don’t trust Dems any further than I can throw them.

Cindy Munford on July 7, 2011 at 6:48 PM

So how does one actually PARTICIPATE in this townhall, i.e. submit questions?

I’m assuming it’s only for his direct constituents or is it open to the public as it IS being done via facebook.

SgtSVJones on July 7, 2011 at 6:49 PM

The GOP will cave…..Obama will win…..Media will proclaim awesome “leadership” by BHO.

Insert any issue in the last 2 1/2 years and the statement above holds true.

PappyD61 on July 7, 2011 at 6:46 PM

*Heavy sigh* PappyD61, I fear you do NOT speak with forked tongue…

sicoit on July 7, 2011 at 6:50 PM

Uh Oh. Obama wants to push wheel chair bound Grandma Over the cliff to gain a second term.

portlandon on July 7, 2011 at 6:39 PM

That’s why I’m pricing a machine gun mount for mine.

katy the mean old lady on July 7, 2011 at 6:51 PM

Rush made the same statement many times today regarding the fact that Odumba$$ DOES.NOT.HAVE.A.LEG.TO.STAND.ON. with this issue. He has N.O.T.H.I.N.G. If the GOP caves, then Rush/Bill Crystal are correct. The GOP are gutless/ba!!less wonders who are afraid of the Odumba$$…

sicoit on July 7, 2011 at 6:52 PM

Let’s face it, Obama has absolutely no idea what he should do, can do or will do. He’s simply throwing “gold watches” in every direction but if they hold his feet to the fire he’ll balk and do absolutely nothing. Somebody needs to ask him what he will do with the additional revenue he’s demanding. Will he apply it to the debt or simply use it to continue his insane spending. This is a game folks so don’t be taken in by his nonsense.

rplat on July 7, 2011 at 6:54 PM

Oooops, Bill Crystal should be Kristol…. my bad

sicoit on July 7, 2011 at 6:55 PM

My faith in our feral government has been completely restored.

Bugler on July 7, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Oooops, Bill Crystal should be Kristol…. my bad

sicoit on July 7, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Ooops, I did the same thing up there.

Knucklehead on July 7, 2011 at 7:00 PM

This is me just pondering while bored at work- but seeing as every time pols say theyve agreed to cut spending its always just another way of saying “we wont be spending more than we were going to anyways” using tricks and money that never existed anyways… Why cant the gop come up with some creative BSing like that? “oh sure bammer, were going to raise taxes… In the future! Well raise them next time were about to lower them. Heres our get out of tax cut free card. You can totally trust us!” If they play silly word games and accounting tricks, why not join them?

p00pies on July 7, 2011 at 7:01 PM

Hmmmmmm…

Doing what’s right to save the country…

… or keep getting invited to the political elite ruling class cocktail parties?

Tough call!

Seven Percent Solution on July 7, 2011 at 7:01 PM

Nothing will happen until Boehner is replaced. HE should resigned or should be forced to resign. He’s a disgrace.

promachus on July 7, 2011 at 7:06 PM

Good Politics but for me it is a relative term. Like a caller to Rush said today, let’s see some cuts and the revenue enhancements can come in ten or twelve years after certain goals have been met. I don’t trust Dems any further than I can throw them.

Cindy Munford on July 7, 2011 at 6:48 PM

Dunno but doubt you can be a “wise latina” but I’ll settle for conventional wisdom from a regular poster.

This is SOS from D’rats who are all promise and self serving. Negotiating with liars demonstrates stupidity.

Caststeel on July 7, 2011 at 7:07 PM

For an opportunity to smear Republicans? You betcha!

For Democrats there’s only politics.

Speakup on July 7, 2011 at 7:10 PM

Nothing will happen until Boehner is replaced. HE should resigned or should be forced to resign. He’s a disgrace.

promachus on July 7, 2011 at 7:06 PM

I’m sure you’re sincere . . . but precisely what has he done to warrant your wrath?The last I heard he was still demanding large spending cuts and is refusing to consider increased taxes.

rplat on July 7, 2011 at 7:10 PM

Theatre…

OmahaConservative on July 7, 2011 at 7:12 PM

the Pew poll is bs. SS/Medicare are fine “right now”…since the financial problem small deficits…but not the big problem of barryville.

That’s not to say that they shouldn’t be “reformed”…but I’d like to see Rs tell the truth. 1. Pols have lied for generations…you see there is no lock box. the deficits that should be drawn from the lockbox should be no problem…that was what the “plan” was. But the pathological liars that are our political class know that the ponzi scheme must now get more revenues and less output

btw…the pew thing say “should people get paid what the government promised”…hmmmm…who is going to say No. Default is not paying people what you promised.

Now I know the long history of this…but can the Rs at least say the truth now…that the political class is a bunch of liars and thieves. And barry is the head of the pack?

r keller on July 7, 2011 at 7:15 PM

I predict the reason the Democrats want the debt ceiling raised now is because the deeper we get into the election season the more it’s going to hurt them. If I were the Republicans I would let them stew in the juices of their own making.

Dr Evil on July 7, 2011 at 7:18 PM

Rhetorical headline of the day?

SouthernGent on July 7, 2011 at 7:21 PM

This is typical. Just like your local school superintendent that threatens to cut football, basketball and band if he doesn’t get mo’ money. In the end, both sides will declare victory, shake hands, and kick the problem down the road.

RADIOONE on July 7, 2011 at 7:27 PM

The GOP will betray you.

Bishop on July 7, 2011 at 7:28 PM

Ryan answered my question… woot! woot!

Explain what happens when treasury bonds go up. What happens to entitlements then?

dforston on July 7, 2011 at 7:28 PM

All talkie by the dems…big cuts in defense and nothing from the libs favs

cmsinaz on July 7, 2011 at 7:30 PM

Yepper pappy
*sigh*

cmsinaz on July 7, 2011 at 7:33 PM

Cut spending
No new tax increases

Or else it is TEA PARTY TIME and to HELL with the Republicans!

Khun Joe on July 7, 2011 at 7:36 PM

I am going to rephrase those poll questions. Tell me if you think we might get different outcomes.

Given the mathematic certainty that the current level of benefits of Social Security and Medicare are simply unsustainable and if not changed, and changed soon, will definitely lead to financial catastrophe, national bankruptcy and drastically reduced benefits, should we:

1) Attempt to reform the system to put it on a sustainable path so that it has a chance to be around for future Americans that have loyally paid into the system all their working lives; or

2) Do nothing and ignore the certain financial calamity because doing so might be politically unpopular with the baby boomer vote.

3) Don’t know, don’t care.

I think 1 might score a plurality.

tommylotto on July 7, 2011 at 7:44 PM

r keller on July 7, 2011 at 7:15 PM

Perhaps you forgot about the fact that the Treasury Department has to come up with the $7 trillion required to get SocSecurity to the technical fund exhaustion date of 2036.

Steve Eggleston on July 7, 2011 at 7:45 PM

barry want enuf money to get past 2012 it looks like. they are alread 200B over now…so another year+..? Given barry’s habit, 2T would be a little tight for him. So he’ll be looking for 3T…so that would be to go from 14.3 to 17.3 limit.

r keller on July 7, 2011 at 7:45 PM

Salt Lake City, UT (AP) — Four Republican governors are signing a pledge to oppose any increase in the federal debt without spending cuts and a balanced budget amendment.Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced Thursday that he is joining Texas Gov. Rick Perry, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell in the pledge.

Herbert says in a news release that he signed the Cut, Cap and Balance pledge to encourage the federal government to control spending.

Eight of the candidates competing for the Republican presidential nomination have also signed the pledge. Only former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has refused to sign it.

The pledge has also been signed by 12 U.S. senators and 29 U.S. representatives.

SouthernGent on July 7, 2011 at 7:46 PM

I heart Paul Ryan! Except for the poor sound quality that was so awesome!

txmomof6 on July 7, 2011 at 7:49 PM

As part of his pitch, Obama is proposing significant reductions in Medicare spending and for the first time is offering to tackle the rising cost of Social Security,

Yeah. Right. So he’s going to tell doctors no more “doc fix”. That’s doomed to failure. Then to tackle SS, he’ll insist that once the economy turns around, there will be no problem. Also doomed to failure.

At least he’d be consistent across the board.

Come on 2012!

GarandFan on July 7, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Good politics vs. good policy: How I wonder which they’ll choose.

Politics every time; the Democrats would rather have the problem than the solution. The problem keeps them in front of the cameras and thus employed; the solution means they have no reason to go on.

JeffWeimer on July 7, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Ryan certainly used the phrase “we need a president who does and believes X” a lot.

cpaulus on July 7, 2011 at 8:09 PM

Those piecharts come from Pew, easily the most corrupt and biased polling company. They are the jokers that admitted to engineering polls to deliver us campaign finance reform, McCain-Feingold style. Don’t believe any of their crap.

slickwillie2001 on July 7, 2011 at 8:18 PM

Obama’s gonna be seriously impeached.

Key West Reader on July 7, 2011 at 8:19 PM

This is all a very delicate issue. Both sides have to finagle all this in order to maintain their power, appeal to their ideologue voting base, and keep their corporate and foreign buddies happy.

…oh, the American people? Er, whataboutthem?

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 7, 2011 at 8:24 PM

The GOP will betray you.

I know this is from experience and sincere, but…sheesh, if I were a politician and my base continuously expressed this sentiment, I’d be disappointed they aren’t behind me pushing and cheering me on.

I’d probably throw up my hands at the next insult from the One. ‘whatev’. I might as well cave which is easier and in the end I’m expected to anyway.

Which, of course, is only one of the gadzillion reasons I’m not a politician and would make a lousy one if I were.

MaggiePoo on July 7, 2011 at 9:24 PM

That’s smart politics from the Democrats, actually: It lets them share the “deficit hawk” label and it also adds pressure on the GOP to agree to revenue raisers.

Raising taxes at our current tax rates is not a revenue raiser and will make our economy even worse. Lowering taxes is a revenue raiser – but the Democrats are either too stupid to see this or love “social engineering/redistribution through taxation” too much to care.

gwelf on July 8, 2011 at 12:08 AM