No, a thousand times no, this is not a new idea
I wrote the other day about the inside-the-beltway Democratic insistence that we need to cut Social Security before the Republicans gain total power and throw us all in FEMA camps. Or something.
Anyway, here it is in black and white:
“We’re not going to have the White House forever, folks. If he doesn’t do this, Paul Ryan is going to do it for us in a few years,” said a longtime Obama aide, referring to the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate who proposed a sweeping overhaul of Medicare that would replace some benefits with vouchers.
Except Ryan didn't propose to cut Social Security did he? No, that's a Democratic priority these days.
This article also asserts that that the president never really wanted to curb entitlement growth and that he's only doing this because he has to, blah,blah, blah:
Anxiety, not ideology prodded Obama to push for entitlement savings, people close to the president say. Obama has told people in his orbit that he feels “squeezed” by the rise of entitlement spending and sees it as a threat to getting anything else done, especially his plans for increased education and infrastructure spending.
That is ridiculous. He's been saying he wants to do this since before he was inaugurated, in January of 2009:
The time to pay up is now, Obama’s aides say, and the White House needed to offer something to bring Republicans back to the bargaining table. They insist that he’s opposed to deeply cutting entitlements and is willing to do only the bare minimum needed to get a deal done.
I asked the president-elect, "At the end of the day, are you really talking about over the course of your campaign some kind of grand bargain? That you have tax reform, healthcare reform, entitlement reform including Social Security and Medicare, where everybody in the country is going to have to sacrifice something, accept change for the greater good?"
The very first order of business after the stimulus package was the "fiscal responsibility summit" which he characterized (again before the inauguration) this way:
"Yes," Obama said.
"And when will that get done?" I asked.
"Well, right now, I’m focused on a pretty heavy lift, which is making sure we get that reinvestment and recovery package in place. But what you described is exactly what we’re going to have to do. What we have to do is to take a look at our structural deficit, how are we paying for government? What are we getting for it? And how do we make the system more efficient?"
"And eventually sacrifice from everyone?" I asked.
"Everybody’s going to have give. Everybody’s going to have to have some skin the game," Obama said.
President-elect Barack Obama will convene a "fiscal responsibility summit" in February designed to bring together a variety of voices on solving the long term problems with the economy and with a special focus on entitlements, he said during an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors this afternoon.
"We need to send a signal that we are serious," said Obama of the summit.
Those invited to attend will include Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (N.D.), ranking minority member Judd Gregg (N.H.), the conservative Democratic Blue Dog coalition and a host of outside groups with ideas on the matter, said the president-elect.
Obama's comments came in a wide-ranging, hour-long interview that came just five days before he will be inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States and become the first African American to hold that title.
Obama said that he has made clear to his advisers that some of the difficult choices--particularly in regards to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare - should be made on his watch. "We've kicked this can down the road and now we are at the end of the road," he said.
It is simply not debatable that this agenda has been his agenda since the beginning. He specifically said it, it cannot be any clearer. The idea that it's only in reaction to some new "squeeze" or because the Republicans demand it in order to get a deal is simply not born out by the history. It's very hard for me to understand how they can say this with a straight face --- and how otherwise intelligent people continue to find ways to believe it.