Presidential Politics and Cutting Entitlements

OK. Prez O is down for the 2012 election. He announced his bid for re-election early this a.m. via YouTube. And apparently his campaign team is going to send a blast e-mail later to those who supported his election last time around. Note to self: enhance the spam filter.

And while the Prez is off and running, the real race for the White House — and for Congress — begins Tuesday when the House Republicans unveil their spending plan and priorities for 2012 and the years ahead.

Here’s from the NYT, “Budget Fight Looming on Medicare and Government’s Size“:

Congress has yet to settle its first budget fight of the year but is already about to move on to an even more consequential fiscal clash.

Even as the two parties struggled over the weekend to reach a deal on federal spending for the next six months and avert a government shutdown at the end of the week, House Republicans were completing a budget proposal for next year and beyond. It is likely to spur an ideological showdown over the size of government and the role of entitlement programs like Medicaid and Medicare.

The plan, which is scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday, will be the most ambitious Republican effort since the November elections to put a conservative stamp on economic and domestic policy. It involves far greater stakes for Congress and for President Obama — substantively and politically — than the current fight over spending cuts.

The outcome of that fight was still uncertain on Saturday as Congressional staff members assembled new proposals and the White House said that Mr. Obama had called House Speaker John A. Boehner and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, to urge them to find an acceptable compromise. He reminded them that time “is running short.”

The longer-term budget proposal has been led by Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who is the party’s leading voice on budget matters, and will go beyond numbers to provide policy prescriptions.

It will call for deep spending cuts again in 2012, chart a path to reducing the deficit and slowing the growth of the accumulating national debt, and grapple with the politically volatile issue of reining in the cost of entitlement programs, starting with Medicaid, which provides health coverage for the poor.

“We want to get spending and debt under control, and we want to get the economy growing, and we want to address the big drivers of our debt, and that is the entitlement programs,” Mr. Ryan, chairman of the Budget Committee, said in an interview. “We have a moral obligation to the country to do this.”

Ah, so what are we talking about here in, like, actual dollars? Here’s from USA Today, “Larger debt debate looms on the Hill“:

The $33 billion or more that lawmakers want to cut from the federal budget to avoid a partial government shutdown is but a small down payment on what could be much bigger cuts to come.

Even as the White House and congressional leaders work to finalize their latest deal, a bipartisan group of senators is seeking to cut $4 trillion from federal deficits over the next decade — 120 times more than the amount being sought to avert a shutdown.

Wow. A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you are talking about real money.

And to slice trillions out of the federal budget some, maybe all, of the sacred cows — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — are going to have to be bludgeoned, if not slaughtered. That’s going to require plenty of our elected leaders to consider their moral obligation — both for and against.

And it’s going to require some presidential leadership.

For the 2012 elections: game on.



One response to “Presidential Politics and Cutting Entitlements

  1. It seems to me that before cutting aid to the poorest americans they might think about shutting down the wars and closing a few bases around the world.

    The most endebted nation on earth has no business trying to militarily occupy the entire world.

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