Barack Obama keeps claiming that he wants a “balanced” approach to deficit reform, but the editors of the Washington Post have a little difficulty trying to figure out what he means by “balanced” — since his proposals have had a 4:1 ratio of tax hikes to spending cuts. The Post also notes that Obama has backed away from even the inadequate entitlement reforms he’s previously embraced. Why, the Post’s editors suggest, Obama may not really be serious about this whole deficit-reform idea.
Since the election last month, a few modest proposals have been floated to slow the growth in entitlement spending. None of these would fix the problem, but they would at least acknowledge that a problem exists. One by one, the ostensible advocates of balance have shot them down, portraying each in turn as a mortal threat to the poor or the aged.
Nudging the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, which President Obama supported last year? Unconscionable. Changing the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated, which Mr. Obama also supported? Brutally unfair to veterans and seniors. Reform of Medicaid provider taxes, which liberal Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) only days ago described as a “charade” used by states to jack up funding from Washington? Unthinkable,the White House now says:In fact, with the Supreme Court having struck down a facet of Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Actinvolving Medicaid, nothing in that program can be touched. And, while they’re at it, put Social Security off the table, too. We’re asked to accept the mythology that, though the pension and disability program is facing ever-widening shortfalls, it isn’t contributing to the overall deficit. …
There are better and worse ways to bend the entitlement curve. Raise the Medicare age, but shield the neediest seniors. If you think Republicans are proposing the wrong way to adjust the cost-of-living index, finance expert Robert C. Pozen has proposed a progressive alternative.
But there’s no way to fix America’s problem without doing something on entitlements. If the Democrats — and Mr. Obama, in particular — don’t get more seriously into that discussion, they have no standing to complain about the Republicans’ lack of balance.
Balance … balance … hmmm:
It’s clear that the White House isn’t interested in balance. They’re not interested in fixing the budget deficits, either. They are interested in punishing success and maintaining the ability to redirect funds for their own political benefit. That’s unbalanced, and not just in the ledger sense, either.