Call Their Bluff

That's Heather Mac Donald's advice for President Obama, which bears a striking resemblance to the Dish's:

Why doesn’t President Obama call the Republicans’ bluff?  His 2012 budget ducks any significant entitlement cuts, and ignores the recommendations of his bipartisan deficit commission.  Obama’s budget director explains that the administration is not willing to make the first move into politically risky terrain.  But why not propose meaningful entitlement reform and force the Republicans to take a stand?  If Republican-Tea Party rhetoric of fiscal responsibility is mere posturing, a fiscally responsible Democratic plan would force Republicans into the awkward position of arguing against reform that they have paid constant lip service to.  But if they truly do mean to rein in entitlement spending, they would (in theory) go along with an Obama proposal to make cuts and would share the political heat.   (Of course, Obama himself may not have the slightest interest in cutting the entitlement juggernaut, but still, he has before him a wonderful opportunity to put Republican political rhetoric to the test.)

This is as plausible as the arguments that it's a political loser for Obama to propose entitlement cuts. Even so, the most compelling reason to put forth a budget that actually addresses the fiscal issues plaguing the United States is that it's the right thing to do. Partisans can always fool themselves into the proposition that public policy is served better in the long run by doing the politically expedient thing in the short term.

But here's the thing: for pols who focus on short term expedience, the long term never arrives. There's always a theory that explains why serious reforms are best pursued during the next session of Congress, or after the next election.