MSNBC commentator: ... The subtext of all of this [call to service] is "hey Americans, you're gonna have to do your part too. There may be some sacrifices involved for you too." Do you think he's going to use his political capital to make those arguments and will it go beyond rhetoric?
Andrea Mitchell: It does go beyond rhetoric. He needs to engage the American people in this joint venture. That's part of the call. That's part of what he needs to accomplish in his spech and in the days following the speech. He needs to make people feel that this is their venture as well and that people are going to need to be more patient and have to contribute and that there will have to be some sacrifice.
And certainly, if he is serious about what he told the Washington Post last week, that he wants to take on entitlement reform, there will be greater sacrifice required from a nation already suffering from economic crisis --- to ask people to take a look at their health care and their other entitlements and realize that for the long term health and vitality of the country we're going to have to give up something that we already enjoy.
Right. Old and sick people are going to have to give up something they "enjoy." That's assuming they "enjoy" being able to eat and go to a doctor. Of course, Andrea Mitchell won't have to give up what she "enjoys." She's a multi-millionaire.
It's hard for me to believe that we are going to have this conversation while the government is giving hundreds of billions of dollars to bankers who see it as a handout to be used to enrich their stockholders and themselves. And I am as stunned as I always am that we are going to have this conversation while the government insists that the United States must spend more on its military than all the other countries in the world combined.
But I really can't believe that we are having this conversation when social security is well funded for decades and yet the current problems are staring us right in the face. I can only assume that Obama must feel that he has to solve every problem anyone can possibly conceive of in the future as well as the problems of the present and I'm sorry, that is the very definition of hubris. Social security is not an issue he needs to put on his already very full plate and I can't imagine why anyone thinks it is, unless they want to barter it away for cooperation on something else, which is unacceptable.
I would guess that they are worried about being called tax and spend liberals, so this is why they are talking up "fiscal responsibility" as some sort of hedge. With the gasbags blathering on all day about how he's being "given" a trillion dollars to "play with" I can see why they would be nervous. But the way to combat that is not to put "entitlements" on the table, but to reassure people that these problems are solvable and that they are putting programs in place to solve them. The proof is in the pudding on this one. The opposition is only interested in sharing bipartisan success, not failure.
It's possible that they want to position health care reform as entitlement reform, but I do not think it will work. The forces that want to destroy the safety net are influential and well funded and they are selling entitlement "reform" in just the way that Andrea Mitchell describes --- as something the American people must give up in order to set the country on the right course. They will not sit still while someone tries to sell it as anything other than necessary cuts in benefits or complete elimination of the programs. That's the whole point.