This article in the New York Times entitled, a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/us/politics/08obama.html?_r=1emc=tnttntemail1=y””Obama Promises Bid to Overhaul Retiree Spending”/a caught my attention this morning:br /blockquotebr /President-elect Barack Obama said Wednesday that overhauling Social Security and Medicare would be “a central part” of his administration’s efforts to contain federal spending, signaling for the first time that he would wade into the thorny politics of entitlement programs…..br /br /Should he follow through with a serious effort to cut back the rates of growth of the two programs, he would be opening up a potentially risky battle that neither party has shown much stomach for. The programs have proved almost sacrosanct in political terms, even as they threaten to grow so large as to be unsustainable in the long run. President Bush failed in his effort to overhaul Social Security, and Medicare only grew larger during his administration with the addition of prescription drug coverage for retirees./blockquotebr /br /Of course, the details of how Obama will change these entitlements is not clear, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they will be reasonable. Is it just me or is Obama taking a very moderate and almost right-leaning approach to the economy in some ways? br /br /If so, I think it’s easier for a Democrat to do this. Republicans are afraid of being seen as “mean” and hurting the old and poor and tend to take on Democratic policies. Obama, on the other hand, may have more freedom to change these entitlement programs just as Clinton did with welfare reform. The media is on their side and though it may grumble, will not denigrate them the way they would a Republican. This more favorable treatment, in turn, will help the electorate swallow a bitter pill more readily than they would if they were being told they were being screwed by “the man.” Maybe the only way to get right-leaning policies through is to elect a Democrat.