Here’s the pitch, which isn’t coming directly from the president, but from an unnamed source.
As part of his pitch, Obama is proposing significant reductions in Medicare spending and for the first time is offering to tackle the rising cost of Social Security, according to people in both parties with knowledge of the proposal. The move marks a major shift for the White House and could present a direct challenge to Democratic lawmakers who have vowed to protect health and retirement benefits from the assault on government spending.
“Obviously, there will be some Democrats who don’t believe we need to do entitlement reform. But there seems to be some hunger to do something of some significance,” said a Democratic official familiar with the administration’s thinking. “These moments come along at most once a decade. And it would be a real mistake if we let it pass us by.”
If it’s such a hot idea, why isn’t the president out there pitching it himself? Well, maybe because he recognized that it would set blazes on his left flank and that’s the second to last thing he needs (the last would be abandonment by Big Labor). Call it leadership for chickens. But the fire is started anyway.
The top House Democrat says she and fellow Democratic lawmakers will oppose including cuts in Social Security or Medicare benefits in any package aimed at reducing huge federal deficits.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made the remark to reporters Thursday after returning to the Capitol from President Barack Obama’s budget talks with congressional leaders.
Pelosi is relatively irrelevant now, but Harry Reid isn’t, and she’s clearly roping him into opposing any cuts to Social Security. He probably doesn’t need much rope: Dem Sens. Mikulski and Conrad are out declaring opposition to the cuts as well.
We seem to have three bottom lines at work in this debate, all at loggerheads. The Congressional Democrats oppose adjusting entitlement spending. The Republicans oppose tax hikes and want real spending cuts. Obama opposes anything that endangers his relationship to the unions. He’ll cut DoD or some entitlements — the programs he actually likes — if he can avoid a fight with Big Labor. Re-election first!
All this spells impasse.