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Hullabaloo


Monday, January 21, 2013

 
Villager pap

by digby

The Politico thinks that the President said something meaningful about "entitlements":

President Barack Obama drew a hard line once again Monday against entitlement cuts that could change the basic structure of programs like Medicare or Social Security — making it clear that any measures to reduce the cost of health care must be done on his terms.

It wasn’t a new message, but by reinforcing it in his inaugural address, Obama doubled down on the boundaries he has drawn in his fight with Republicans over the next stages of deficit reduction. The president’s forceful defense of these social safety-net programs fit with a larger theme of his speech, defending the role of government in American society.

“We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future,” Obama said.

Obama delivered those lines as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the author of the House Republican Medicare plan and Mitt Romney’s former running mate, sat in the crowd at the Capitol.

Obama’s message could make it harder to negotiate entitlement changes down the road as part of a deal to head off across-the-board spending cuts, or to keep the government open this spring after its temporary funding runs out. But it could also buy him some room to make cuts that don’t restructure the programs — as long as Obama can convince Democrats that they don’t shift costs to “the generation that built this country.”

Uhm, no. Unfortunately, when it comes to this I'm afraid Democrats need to be in full blown trust but verify mode. In fact, they need to just be in verify mode and willing to just say no.

And that's because "his terms" so far have been completely unacceptable. Such as this, and this and this and this:

Bob Woodward, on Meet The Press with David Gregory discussing the leaked 2011 White House Grand Bargain memo to House Speaker John Boehner:

“This is a confidential document, last offer the president — the White House made last year to Speaker Boehner to try to reach this $4 trillion grand bargain. And it’s long and it’s tedious and it’s got budget jargon in it. But what it shows is a willingness to cut all kinds of things, like TRICARE, which is the sacred health insurance program for the military, for military retirees; to cut Social Security; to cut Medicare. And there are some lines in there about, “We want to get tax rates down, not only for individuals but for businesses.” So Obama and the White House were willing to go quite far.”

You can see the memo here.

Those are all occasions in the first term, dating from the very beginning, that the administration said it was willing -- sometimes eager -- to cut vital programs. And all of the cuts would have hurt the people who depend on them.

There are savings in Medicare that are acceptable, but we all know that in order to bring down over all health care costs in the long run the government must take much greater responsibility for costs and regulation, some of which it must be hoped will come about because of Obamacare. (Or an epiphany to lower the medicare eligibility age to --- 0.)Other than that, there's not one idea on the table about any cost savings to "entitlements" that won't come out of the hides of average citizens.

So no, he squandered whatever trust Democrats (those who give a damn anyway) might have had in his ability to "restructure" the programs without hurting the people they serve. There's no running room on that at all.

I like that he said this, though. It's always good to say it:

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.



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