Defense Cuts: More Portents of Bad Deals to Come
In case you were wondering about those defense cuts:
In a letter on Friday, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) asked President Obama to repudiate Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s insistence that in order to deal with the nation’s debt and deficit, additional revenue should come from tax increases and cuts to entitlement programs, such as Medicare, instead of the reducing military spending. TPM notes that Obama gave his answer in an speech today in which he backed Panetta. Obama said there isn’t much more to cut beyond the defense and domestic spending reductions that were part of the debt ceiling deal last week. “What we need to do now,” Obama said, “is combine those spending cuts with two additional steps: tax reform that will ask those who can afford it to pay their fair share and modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare.”
It was fairly clear that Panetta's speech was backed by the White House, but that clears up any possible confusion.
President Obama did very specifically say "modest adjustments to health care programs" in his speech today. What's interesting about that is that the Republicans are all demanding that he put "Obamacare" on the table.I wonder if he will --- and if they are now including that under the term "entitlements."
Politico put it differently this morning:
WHITE HOUSE TO CONGRESS: “WE MUST DO BETTER” – Statement yesterday from Jay Carney: “The President believes it is important that our elected leaders come together to strengthen our economy and put our nation on a stronger fiscal footing. The bipartisan compromise on deficit reduction was an important step in the right direction. Yet, the path to getting there took too long and was at times too divisive. We must do better to make clear our nation’s will, capacity and commitment to work together to tackle our major fiscal and economic challenges.
“Over the past weeks and months the President repeatedly called for substantial deficit reduction through both long-term entitlement changes and revenues through tax reform, with additional measures to spark jobs and strengthen our recovery. That is why the President pushed for a grand bargain that would include all of these elements and require compromise and cooperation from all sides. Over the coming weeks the President will strongly encourage the bipartisan fiscal committee as well as all members of Congress to put our common commitment to a stronger recovery and a sounder long-term fiscal path above our political and ideological differences.”
Politico helpfully editorializes, hinting broadly that the powerful liberal bloc was to blame for any inability to get it done:
It’s increasingly obvious that both sides should have found a way to finesse a “grand bargain” that would have guaranteed more deficit reduction by addressing entitlements. The fact that President Obama signed the “Budget Control Act” in private reflects the distaste for it among Dems. Would YOU have liked to be the one to invite Leader Pelosi to a Rose Garden signing ceremony? Didn’t think so.
Yeah, that crazy San Francisco lib did it again.
Meanwhile, as focus shifts to the Super Congress, the big game in town is guessing who's going to be appointed. Sam Stein reports:
Senate Democratic leaders are winnowing down the names on the short list and they are leaning strongly against including some of the party's most notable budget hawks.
Two senators, in particular, were said to be unlikely to end up on the committee: Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who chairs the Finance Committee, and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who chairs the Budget Committee.
Final decisions have not yet been made, two aides cautioned. But two other Democratic aides with knowledge of deliberations said they would be very surprised if either ended up on the final list.
But they are considering Mark Warner. Mark Warner, the Gang of Six member who was talking up the Grand Bargain last April.
@NatashaChart tweeted earlier today, "is there now any more loathsome phrase in english than 'grand bargain'?" I don't know, but it's certainly one I wish would disappear.