Is Ron Paul weak on entitlements?

But if Paul’s support for entitlement reform is deeper than the “Plan to Restore America” would suggest, the candidate doesn’t seem too eager to make it known. To the contrary, Paul has taken to saying publicly that cuts elsewhere in the budget can make entitlement reform unnecessary, at least in the near term. After the New Hampshire primary he said that if we “cut this overseas spending, at least we might be able to allow the Social Security beneficiaries to get their checks and medical care be provided.”

And last year, when PBS asked him how he’d balance the budget, he detailed his cuts to overseas spending and cabinet departments, and then said, “You don’t have to go and cut health care or medical — or Social Security — in order to start getting our house in order.” When the interviewer claimed Paul had “talked about dramatically scaling down or reforming Medicare and Social Security,” he corrected her — “Well, I haven’t talked a whole lot about that” — and reiterated his desire to cut military spending and allow young people to opt out of Social Security. When the interviewer essentially repeated the question, again claiming that he’d spoken of making serious changes to Medicare, he again corrected her and emphasized his opt-out plan…

A candidate who downplays entitlement reform should trouble not only libertarians, but anyone with a basic sense of the U.S.-budget reality.