One of the major reasons Obama earned the Washington Post's 2012 endorsement was his "balanced approach" to deficit reduction. Now that he's won, the Post is alarmed to discover he is pushing for tax increases while offering no cuts to entitlements whatsoever.
Just how out of balance is the President's balanced approach? Enough that the Washington Post has written not one but two editorials demanding that entitlement reform be included the mix. The first piece, two weeks ago, was unequivocal: "Any serious debt-reduction plan has to include revenue and defense cuts. But no serious one can exclude entitlements."
But it appears the President and his party are planning to kick the can down the road. Greg Sargent reported Tuesday that union leaders held a private meeting with the President. One
attendee described the President's expectations as follows: "They expect
taxes to go up on the wealthy and to protect Medicare and Medicaid
While the union bosses are apparently celebrating this
good news, the Washington Post editorial board is sounding more and more like a Republican presidential candidate:
Since 60 percent of the federal budget goes to
entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security,
there’s no way to achieve balance without slowing the rate of increase
of those programs.
Mitt Romney couldn't have said it any better. But the Post goes even farther, quoting a promise of serious reform Obama made directly to the editorial board circa 2009:
"What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the
end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further,” he
said then. “We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of
the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else’s.”
Holding Obama's feet to the fire might have been of some value before the election, but it's surely wasted breath now. In fact, last month the Post endorsed Obama for a second term by praising his stance on this very issue. "Mr. Obama is committed to the only approach that can succeed," the endorsement read: "a balance of entitlement reform and revenue increases." Only now it seems he's really not that committed to the former, just as Republicans have been saying for at least the past year.
The truth is that the President's "balanced approach" was always just an empty talking point. Obama proposed tax increases on the wealthy designed to win favor with his base and damage Republicans. He combined this with phantom savings (note the link to the Post's own fact checker) from the wars in the Middle East. The result was a plan that featured "$3 of tax hikes for every $1 of spending cuts." This is balance?
Barack Obama has never proposed a serious entitlement reform plan or even the broad outline of one. So it's a bit late for the Post to act shocked as he prepares to once again kick reform down the road. The Post wasn't fooled. They helped the President fool others.