January 22, 2013

Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown: Obama Has ‘Conflicted Relationship With Entitlement Reform’

For four years (and really going back further when you consider former President George W. Bush’s halting attempt to reform Social Security in the middle of last decade), Barack Obama and his party have paid lip service at best to the idea of entitlement reform while refusing to provide any specifics about what they would do to fix Social Security and Medicare, both of which are unsustainable in their current forms. Obama rejected his own Simpson Bowles commission’s recommendations. Democrats have treated serious proposals coming from Republicans as grannycide.

Yet the Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown, who must be gaining strength in her arms and shoulders from all of her water-carrying for Obama and his party, wants us to believe that Obama has a “deeply conflicted relationship with entitlement reform.” And in case you missed it (I certainly did), Obama has tried “harder than any other Democratic president to tackle the issue” (no Democratic Party president has “tried hard” to tackle the issue). Several paragraphs from her Tuesday dispatch follow the jump (bolds are mine):

President Obama dodges ‘hard choices’ on entitlements

President Barack Obama insisted four years ago that the nation must make “hard decisions” to preserve entitlement programs.

But on Monday, the “hard choices” he spoke of on health care and the deficit came with a major caveat: He’s not willing to give up much.

His inaugural address promised an ambitious progressive agenda — and laid bare Obama’s deeply conflicted relationship with entitlement reform.

He’s done just enough to earn credit for trying harder than any other Democratic president to tackle the issue, but he has yet to throw the full weight of his office or his formidable campaign operation behind it.

The president has never precisely defined what hard choices he would be willing to make on Medicare and Social Security. It’s not even clear what he would do if he had the power to remake the programs on his own, without worrying about opposition from Republicans or Democrats.

And though Obama has talked about shared sacrifice from both parties, he has not gotten to the point in deficit negotiations at which he’s had to pressure rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers to cross their red line on the sacred issues, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) did with his own party in raising taxes.

Unless Obama seizes the opportunity in the next few months, entitlement reform will hang over his second term, lurking like a legacy-killer if he hands off the task to the next president, deficit hawks warn.

Budoff Brown’s dispatch is an exericse in sheer fantasy.

Obama ran for reelection based on explicit and implied promises to let Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs run on autopilot. If there’s any evidence that he and his party members in Congress are willing to change entitlement programs in any way, I haven’t seen it. Budoff Brown admitted as much when she wrote that “The president has never precisely defined what hard choices he would be willing to make” for four years. Why does she think that he intends to do so during the next four?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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