If Not Now, When?
Drum claims that if Obama wanted entitlement reform he'd "propose it separately, as a major initiative completely divorced from the annual budgeting process":
I have no crystal ball. I don't know if Obama is truly interested in making historical changes to Medicare and/or Social Security later in his term. But if he is, he'd be a fool to propose them now. The annual budget is just an annual budget, and the process for getting it through the congressional committee process is laborious and well trod and that laborious and well-trod path most definitely doesn't include the kind of big-time dealmaking necessary for some kind of grand bargain over taxes and entitlements. If you want entitlement reform to disappear without a trace, yesterday would have been a great time to propose it. If you want it for real, you'll wait.
To coin a phrase, how long, O Lord, how long? We have a divided government, we just had an election in which one side campaigned on too much spending, we have a very pragmatic president able to explain the dangers we face, and a debt that grows every day. But nooo. Let's get the GOP to lead.
And let's not fool ourselves. The president has just asked the opposition to do his work for him. He should be careful what he asks for. If the GOP actually proposes cuts in Medicare, real tax reform, and some of the proposals in the Bowles-Simpson report, there will be many independents and fiscal conservatives who will take a second look.