President Obama will release his budget proposal next Wednesday. In a move that is certain to anger his base, the President will formally offer to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits; an offer designed to reach a deficit reduction compromise with his Republican opponents.
The President’s proposal will tie any reduction in entitlement benefits to an increase in revenues by way of closing tax loopholes that favor the wealthy.
The administration says the President’s budget will cut the deficit by an additional $1.8 trillion over the next decade. Together with the $2.5 trillion in spending cuts that the White House and Congress already agreed to, the deal would bring the total deficit reduction to $4.3 trillion over the next ten years.
We have been waiting for the President to have the political courage to formally address the real cause of our long term financial woes…entitlements. Yes, the president has nibbled around the edges before. He has mentioned in vague terms his willingness to address entitlements on several occasions. He even included some aspects of entitlement reform in the “Grand Bargain” that John Boehner turned his back on. But this is the first time that this President has sent Congress a specific, detailed proposal that takes this very politically charged issue head on.
It’s amazing how clear headed politicians can become when not facing re-election.
Will the President receive some blowback from this proposal? Absolutely! Republicans will rip apart his request for additional revenues. They will say that he got his tax increases when Congress agreed to keep the Bush tax cuts in place for all but the wealthiest Americans. Democrats will criticize him for even mentioning cuts to the heretofore sacrosanct entitlement programs.
But the President has been politically savvy with this approach. His budget falls somewhere in the middle of the right wing austerity measures in Paul Ryan’s budget and the tax and spend freewheeling of the budget proposal offered by the Democrat led Senate. Obama comes across here as the moderate adult in the room. He is betting that he can pull members from both sides toward a middle of the road compromise.
The important thing here is that the President of the United States will formerly offer a budget that puts country over party.That is leadership. That is what the people want.