For Obama and Democrats, the words "balanced approached" get spewed often but their so-called balance is to raise taxes but offer no entitlement reforms, no meaningful change in spending, making the word balance nothing more than just that... a word.
People are starting to notice.
In an effort to avert the “fiscal cliff” without hurting our economy, Republicans have offered to accept new revenue demanded by Democrats if it comes from tax reform and is tied to needed spending cuts. But an increasing number of Democrats seem uninterested in working together, resisting sensible spending cuts or threatening to drive us off the cliff altogether. And people are starting to notice:
The Democrats demanding tax hikes but no spending cuts are running against the desires of the American people – recent surveys show a majority of Americans back Republicans’ balanced framework that would cut spending and close special-interest tax breaks. In one survey, 61 percent said closing loopholes and lowering rates would help raise more revenue than simply raising tax rates (28 percent).
- “Democrats, meanwhile, are sounding more and more maximalist in resisting spending cuts,” says the Washington Post. “Many insist that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and education — pretty much everything except the Pentagon — are untouchable. … Since 60 percent of the federal budget goes to entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, there’s no way to achieve balance without slowing the rate of increase of those programs.”
- USA Today slammed Democrats’ “destructive refusal to trim unsustainable benefit programs,” and said they are “fudging the issue” to avoid making needed spending cuts and reforms.
- There are “deep divisions among Senate Democrats over” needed spending cuts “even as White House officials concede that government benefit programs will have to be” part of an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff, says the Associated Press.
- “Senate Democratic leaders signaled Tuesday they would not agree to any entitlement reforms,” reports The Hill. Politico says this “posturing could complicate efforts by the White House” to reach an agreement that averts the fiscal cliff without hurting our economy.
I am with Keith Hennesey... call Obama's bluff because if Republicans stand the line and insist on spending cuts, meaningful ones that will help balance our budget, then Obama's refusal to consider true "balance" will be noted even more prominently.
Hennesey makes four important points
• If there is no bill, the U.S. economy will probably dip into recession for much/most/all of 2013, and it’s impossible to predict whether such a recession would be short-lived.
• A 2013 recession would be terrible for the country and terrible for the Obama Presidency. It would limit the President’s options across his entire policy agenda, economic and non-economic. And it could define and dominate his entire second term.
• President Obama believes #1 and #2, and therefore avoiding the risk of triggering a recession with his veto is an even higher policy priority than his fiscal policy goal.
• The President wants to get things done. He cares more about his own chances for policy success (across the entire breadth of his agenda, whenever he figures out what it is) than he cares about relative political blame. A scenario in which Republicans get most of the blame for a veto-triggered recession is still a loser for him if it means he can’t accomplish his second term goals.
If Republicans do not stand the line and insist on true balance, then as I pointed out yesterday, conservative supports will remember in 2014 when every member of the House is up for reelection.
As Laura Ingraham so succinctly puts it, the GOP can look forward to a 2014 "wipeout" if they offer revenue and do not get spending cuts.
Oh, and don't forget, Obama and Democrats also want a debt limit increase while refusing to consider offsetting that with spending cuts. Republicans better hold firm on that as well.
[Update] More from RNC Research:
FLASHBACK: Obama Said “If We Want To Get Serious About Fiscal Discipline … We Will Also Have To Get Serious About Entitlement Reform.” OBAMA: “Along with defense and interest on the national debt, the biggest cost drivers in our budget are entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — all of which get more and more expensive every year. So if we want to get serious about fiscal discipline, and I do, then we’re going to not only have to trim waste out of our discretionary budget — which we’ve already begun — we will also have to get serious about entitlement reform.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., 4/14/09)
- Some Democrats Have Been “Emboldened By The Recent Election Results To Fight Against Benefit Cuts.” “But senators like Baucus and Conrad increasingly are being drowned out by other Democrats emboldened by the recent election results to fight against benefit cuts.” (Stephen Ohlemacher, “Senate Dems Divided Over Cuts To Benefit Programs,” The Associated Press, 11/28/12)
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) Has Said “The Election Spoke Very Strongly About The Fact That The Vast Majority Of American People Don’t Want To Cut These Programs.” “Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said he is willing to find savings in Medicare and Medicaid by making them more efficient. But, he said, he won’t support benefit cuts. ‘I think the election spoke very strongly about the fact that the vast majority of American people don’t want to cut these programs,’ Harkin said.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) Said He Doesn’t Think There Should Be A Rush To Overhaul Entitlement Programs As Part Of A Deal To Avert The Looming Fiscal Cliff. “Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate leadership ranks, said he doesn’t think there should be a rush to overhaul entitlement programs in connection with the move to avert the fiscal cliff in the remaining weeks of the current session.” (Stephen Ohlemacher, “Senate Dems Divided Over Cuts To Benefit Programs,” The Associated Press , 11/28/12)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) Said Earlier This Month He Is “ Not Going To Be Part Of Having Social Security As Part Of These Talks Relating To This Deficit.” “‘I am not going to be part of having Social Security as part of these talks relating to this deficit,’ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters this month. Seriously? How exactly do Democrats expect Republicans to bend on their destructive refusal to raise taxes if Democrats won’t bend on their destructive refusal to trim unsustainable benefit programs? Social Security represents more than one-fifth of federal spending, much too big to ignore.” (Editorial, “Editorial: Social Security Adds To Deficits,” USA Today, 11/27/12)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Has Indicated That No Entitlements – Not Social Security Nor Medicare And Medicaid – Should Be On The Table For Cuts. “In the House, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has taken the same position, not only on Social Security, but also on Medicare and Medicaid.” (Stephen Ohlemacher, “Senate Dems Divided Over Cuts To Benefit Programs,” The Associated Press, 11/28/12)
THE DIVISIONS IN OBAMA’S OWN PARTY ARE COMPLICATING EFFORTS TO AVOID THE CATASTROPHE OF THE FISCAL CLIFF“Deep Divisions Among Senate Democrats Over Whether Cuts To Popular Benefit Programs Like Medicare And Medicaid Should Be Part Of A Plan To Slow The Government’s Mushrooming Debt Pose A Big Obstacle To A Deal For Avoiding A Potentially Economy-Crushing ‘Fiscal Cliff’…” “Deep divisions among Senate Democrats over whether cuts to popular benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid should be part of a plan to slow the government’s mushrooming debt pose a big obstacle to a deal for avoiding a potentially economy-crushing ‘fiscal cliff,’ even if Republicans agree to raise taxes.” (Stephen Ohlemacher, “Senate Dems Divided Over Cuts To Benefit Programs,” The Associated Press, 11/28/12)
“Congressional Democrats Are Starting To Draw A Much Tougher Line On Entitlements In The Increasingly Messy Fiscal Cliff Talks, Warning Republicans To Keep Their Hands Off Social Security And Medicare Benefits.” “Congressional Democrats are starting to draw a much tougher line on entitlements in the increasingly messy fiscal cliff talks, warning Republicans to keep their hands off Social Security and Medicare benefits. Democrats also say they’ll refuse to look at GOP calls to dramatically slash Medicaid. And for them to even entertain any changes to Medicare and Medicaid, they say the price is for Republicans to agree to far higher taxes than they have flirted with so far.” (Manu Raju, “Democrats Talk Tough On Entitlements In Fiscal Cliff Debate,” Politico, 11/27/12)
If Obama Reaches A Deal That Includes Entitlement Cuts, “He Can Expect A Rebellion From His Allies On The Hill…” “And if President Barack Obama reaches a bipartisan deal with GOP leaders that cuts entitlements, he can expect a rebellion from his allies on the Hill – that is, unless he wins what they consider major concessions from Republicans on taxes.” (Manu Raju, “Democrats Talk Tough On Entitlements In Fiscal Cliff Debate,” Politico, 11/27/12)
- “The Tougher Line Reflects An Emboldened Group Of Democrats On The Hill Whose Tougher Public Posturing Could Complicate Efforts By The White House To Cut A Sweeping Deal With The GOP.” (Manu Raju, “Democrats Talk Tough On Entitlements In Fiscal Cliff Debate,” Politico, 11/27/12)
WILL OBAMA LEAD?The Washington Post ‘s Greg Sargent Reports That White House Meetings With Major Unions About The Cliff Have Conveyed A Willingness “To Go Over The Fiscal Cliff If Necessary.” “I’m told that representatives of major unions and progressive groups met privately this morning with senior Obama administration officials at the White House – and were pleased with what they heard. Things can always change at a moment’s notice. But attendees at this meeting came away convinced – for now – that the White House firmly believes it has the leverage in the fiscal cliff talks, and has no intention of budging on the demand for higher tax rates from the rich or on other core priorities. Indeed, one person at the meeting – which included people from the AFLCIO, AFSCME, SEIU, MoveOn and others – came away convinced that the White House would ultimately prove willing to go over the fiscal cliff if necessary, rather than give ground on core demands, though this is not by any means a desired option and isn’t being discussed as a strategic possibility.” (Greg Sargent, “Reasons To Be Encouraged About Fiscal Cliff’s Endgame,” The Washington Post ‘s The Plum Line , 11/23/12)
- Sargent Reports That An Attendee Said Of The Administration “They Feel Confident That They Don’t Have To Compromise” In Negotiations Over The Fiscal Cliff. “The attendee tells me the White House is cool to the idea of going over the cliff, but added: ‘Would they if it’s between that and compromising their core principles? I was left with the impression that they would.’ They remain in the same place: They expect taxes to go up on the wealthy and to protect Medicare and Medicaid benefits,’ the attendee added. ‘They feel confident that they don’t have to compromise.’” (Greg Sargent, “Reasons To Be Encouraged About Fiscal Cliff’s Endgame,” The Washington Post ‘s The Plum Line , 11/23/12)
Obama “Has To Prepare The American People – And His Own Supporters Most Of All – For The ‘Hard Decisions’ Required To Put The Country On A Sound Financial Footing.” “Four years later, has the moment arrived? Since his reelection, Mr. Obama has fueled a campaign-style effort to pressure Republicans to give ground on taxes. That’s fine, but it won’t be enough. At some point, he has to prepare the American people – and his own supporters most of all – for the ‘hard decisions’ required to put the country on a sound financial footing.” (Editorial, “Mr. Obama’s Time To Lead On Entitlements,” The Washington Post , 11/27/12)
“That Means Spending Cuts, It Means Entitlement Reform, It Means Compromise … Only One Person Is In A Position To Make It Happen.” “That means spending cuts, it means entitlement reform, it means compromise, it means a balanced solution that will please neither House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) nor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Only one person is in a position to make it happen.” (Editorial, “Mr. Obama’s Time To Lead On Entitlements,” The Washington Post , 11/27/12)
Democrats Refuse To Touch Medicare In Spite Of Its Anticipated Insolvency In 2024. “But Medicare is facing insolvency in 2024, according to the latest trustees report. Medicare services 48 million people over the age of 65 or with disabilities, while Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program provide coverage to about 60 million a month – and those social safety net programs eat up about 21 percent of the $3.6 trillion annual budget.” (Editorial, “Editorial: Social Security Adds To Deficits,” USA Today, 11/27/12)
“Social Security Represents More Than One-Fifth Of Federal Spending, Much Too Big To Ignore.” (Editorial, “Editorial: Social Security Adds To Deficits,” USA Today, 11/27/12)
- “The Shortfalls For Social Security That CBO Is Currently Projecting Are Larger Than Those The Agency Projected A Year Ago.” (“The 2012 Long-Term Projections For Social Security: Additional Information,” Congressional Budget Office, 10/12)
- “Outlays For Social Security Benefits Will Jump By $43 Billion-Or Nearly 6 Percent-This Year.” “Outlays for Social Security benefits will jump by $43 billion-or nearly 6 percent-this year. That increase includes the effect of the 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment that beneficiaries received in January. In addition, the number of Social Security beneficiaries has risen by an estimated 2.5 percent, to 56 million people, in 2012.” (“An Update To The Budget And Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 To 2022,” Congressional Budget Office, 8/22/12)