Hey, maybe Obama's working on a smarter secret budget!

McConnell has been encouraging secret talks on a serious deficit plan. “If we’re going to do anything serious about entitlements, we’re not going to negotiate it in public,” McConnell told Politico’s Mike Allen in a recent interview. “I don’t necessarily conclude from the absence of any real discussion of entitlement reform that the president is not interested.” McConnell and the president had a private lunch recently that never made it on to Obama’s official schedule. A GOP leadership aide says they are hopeful this route will produce some fruit. White House officials brush off the idea in a way that doesn’t reveal much of their thinking…

If the president isn’t working something behind the scenes, he is falling short of the kind of leadership he promised. As it stands, his future-oriented agenda asks us to win the future by investing in programs like wireless Internet, high-speed rail and education. These things won’t pay off for a while. In the meantime, he’s calling on cuts that will hurt immediately. But a focus on the future makes no sense without a focus on the future problems of the deficit. No one will win the future if we don’t spend some time in the present addressing the deficit.

Republicans are falling short, too. They boast about the past election being an affirmation of their message that government has grown too large. They boast about how they were unified against a popular president and followed their small-government principles. But now they want Obama to lead when it comes to tackling entitlements?