The Washington Post has a story tonight, citing Democratic sources familiar with Obama’s views, that the President will propose a massive $4 trillion spending cut over the next decade that includes significant cuts in Social Security and Medicare.
President Obama is pressing congressional leaders to consider a far-reaching debt-reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republican support for fresh tax revenue.
At a meeting with top House and Senate leaders set for Thursday morning, Obama plans to argue that a rare consensus has emerged about the size and scope of the nation’s budget problems and that policymakers should seize the moment to take dramatic action.
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. . . .
It seems our President wants a grandiose bargain in which he plays Ronald Reagan and John Boehner plays Tiip O’Neill. And our President has entered some seriously deluded region in which he and those around him think the country will thank him for seizing this great opportunity to do what the Washington Post editorializes as “a major legislative achievement.”
Yes, at a time when the economy desperately needs more federal spending to offset what’s happening in the private sector and the states, when states and local governments are reeling, unemployment is stuck at 9 percent and the country desperately needs federal infrastructure funding, our misguided President wants to slash spending by [$3 trillion and aggregate demand] by a phenomenal $4 trillion in the near future. And it’s all about ego . . .
“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.”
. . . and the conviction that doing exactly the wrong thing for the economy and destroying his Party’s brand and integrity will be rewarded at the polls:
The administration argues that lawmakers would also get an important victory to sell to voters in 2012. “The fiscal good has to outweigh the pain,” said a Democratic official familiar with the discussions.
Buckle up in your time machine, folks. We’re about to return to 1936-37, when the “fiscal good” argument put millions out of work. But don’t expect FDR to be reelected this time.
Update: The New York Times emphasizes the initiative came during John Boehner’s surprise White House visit on Sunday, in which he reportedly discussed the potential of $1 trillion in tax measures (which aren’t to be confused with raising taxes). That visit, first denied, has left some Democrats worried about Obama’s response. No kidding.
The president’s renewed efforts follow what knowledgeable officials said was an overture from Mr. Boehner, who met secretly with Mr. Obama last weekend, to consider as much as $1 trillion in unspecified new revenues as part of an overhaul of tax laws in exchange for an agreement that made substantial spending cuts, including in such social programs as Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security — programs that had been off the table.
The intensifying negotiations between the president and the speaker have Congressional Democrats growing anxious, worried they will be asked to accept a deal that is too heavily tilted toward Republican efforts and produces too little new revenue relative to the magnitude of the cuts.
Uh, earth to Dems: Even ignoring that you’re dumb enough to throw away Paul Ryan’s House gift, if you get branded as having betrayed your promises on Medicare and Social Security, no amount of tax shifting offered by John Boehner is going to save you: “Sure, we cut your Social Security and Medicare benefits, but we sure nailed those guys with corporate jets and hedge funds!” Say “good night,” Gracie.
Update II: via Huffpo, another anonymous White House source tells us these stories “overshoot the runway,” so everyone should calm down. Sorry, but it was their plane, their runway, their pilot and their air traffic controller. Once again, they’re saying Obama won’t “slash” benefits, but you can bleed someone to death with cuts that start small.
From the archives:
Jane Hamsher, Obama packs debt commission with Social Security privatizers and benefit cut supporters