WaPo: The Democrats’ refusal to address entitlements is getting kinda’ silly, isn’t it?

posted at 2:41 pm on November 28, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Over and over and over again, we’ve heard the president, the White House, and various Democrats intone that we need to find a “balanced” approach to solving the impending debt crisis, but Democrats have conveniently neglected to match their proposed ‘Clinton-era’ tax increases with Clinton-era levels of government spending, which would obviously require mega-cuts. The only serious cuts Democrats seem willing to address would come from the military’s budget, and more and more of them having been coming out and declaring their outright opposition to even considering entitlement reform.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid echoed that sentiment: “President Obama said that Social Security is not part of what . . . we’re going to do in this. And I agree with him.”

In prepared remarks earlier Tuesday, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, went further: He said all entitlement programs — including Medicare and Medicaid — should be dealt with, but not in any fiscal cliff negotiations. …

Indeed, Democrats face increasing challenges from the left in that regard. On Nov. 15, a collection of liberal Democratic senators sent a letter to Reid, encouraging him not to cave to the opposition in fiscal cliff negotiations.

One provision in that letter urged, “Any deal must protect Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security from harmful cuts.” Despite claims to the contrary, the letter notes, “Medicare and Medicaid are already very efficient,” and it adds, “The projected rate of spending growth in Medicare and Medicaid continues to be much lower than the rate of growth in the private health insurance market.”

Ohhh, you must mean the other entitlement programs, the ones that aren’t currently hurtling us toward $86 trillion in liabilities. Riiiight. Well, okay, but still… where’s this marvelously “balanced” approach we’ve been hearing so much about? The Democrats’ newfangled definition of compromise — ‘bipartisanship means you come to the table and then do exactly what we want’ — has shot way past ridiculous, and the Washington Post is even saying that it’s time for the president to step it the heck up already.

Democrats, meanwhile, are sounding more and more maximalist in resisting spending cuts. Many insist that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and education — pretty much everything except the Pentagon — are untouchable. …

Elections do have consequences, and Mr. Obama ran on a clear platform of increasing taxes on the wealthy. But he was clear on something else, too: Deficit reduction must be “balanced,” including spending cuts as well as tax increases. Since 60 percent of the federal budget goes to entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, there’s no way to achieve balance without slowing the rate of increase of those programs. …

That means spending cuts, it means entitlement reform, it means compromise, it means a balanced solution that will please neither House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) nor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Only one person is in a position to make it happen.

But does that mean that it will happen? …I won’t hold my breath. Krauthammer had President Obama’s number on Fox last night (click the image to watch, via RCP):

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…Why are Republicans allowing the entire debate to be about taxes and about the war among Republicans over holding the line on the Norquist pledge or not, when what Obama is proposing on raising the rates on the 2% is a triviality? It will reduce the deficit from 1.10 trillion to 1.02 trillion, 8 cents on the dollar. It is nothing. It’s lunch money, it’s a rounding error. And yet that’s all the debate that we are hearing. Obama understands this. He’s not trying to fix our fiscal issues and problems. He’s trying to destroy the Republicans by insisting that there is a split among the Republicans on this issue which has held them together, the same way it destroyed President Bush Senior when he went back on the pledge he made. This is a political attack on the Republicans. There is no evidence right now that he has any interest in the real fiscal issue because he would have to talk about spending and entitlements and he isn’t.


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