It's pretty obvious what President Obama is doing in his budget. He is running for reelection and he is challenging those mean-spirited Republicans to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. So he is doing nothing about entitlements, hoping to set up the Republicans for a fall as soon as they touch the third rail of American politics.
And maybe it will all work out for him, as Republicans appear willing to accept the challenge he has flung down. As Robert Costa and Andrew Stiles report:
As of Monday early afternoon, House Republicans were officially undecided as to whether they’d take on entitlements when they write the budget this year. Fiscal-hawk extraordinaire Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, danced around the issue in a meeting with reporters... [J]ust as he was reluctantly deflecting the question, House majority leader Eric Cantor was dropping a bombshell in a pen-and-pad briefing with reporters elsewhere in the Capitol: Republicans, Cantor said, are all-in on entitlement reform.
Let's be candid about this. Democrats are going to demagogue this. They are going to try and do a rerun on the 1964 Presidential election when they successfully framed Barry Goldwater as a mad bomber that would get us into nuclear war. The result was the Vietnam War and the liberal belch of 1965 with Medicare and Medicaid and the War on Poverty.
The liberal belch of 1965 is what set the stage for the current entitlement crisis, because Medicare and Medicaid are now set to eat the budget.
As we know, President Obama and the Democrats have doubled down on the current system of administrative centralism with ObamaCare--which they claim, and presumably believe, will bend the cost curve down even as it ups the bureaucratizing and regulating of the health care field, and increases the number of people with subsidized access to health care.
Frankly, I suspect that President Obama and the Democrats are going to win this one, this time. They will demagogue the proposed Republican fixes to health care entitlements and President Obama will win election. But then the long-term will start to bite and by 2016 the American people will be in full revolt against everything Obamian and Democratic. We will see nasty inflation, we will see sky-high interest rates; we will see pervasive cronyism and out-front liberal corruption; we will see escalating problems with health care.
Then in 2016 the Goldwater moment of 2012 in which the liberals win by pure demagoguery will turn into the neo-Reagan era of 2016 and the sunny uplands of 20 years of growth and prosperity. We don't know who the Reagan will be, but this is America, the exceptional nation, and this is a nation that finds its Washington, its Hamilton, its Lincoln, and its Reagan in its hour of need.
So I say to the House Republicans: go ahead. Put your proposals on the table. Realize that many of you in the front ranks will fall the to musket balls of the Obamis and their willing accomplices in the media. Understand that in the strategic picture your sacrifices will lay the groundwork for the victory of 2016.
And if, despite the best efforts of the Obamis and the Democrats, Republican reforms go through in the next two years, well, sometimes virtue is rewarded in this life rather than in the next.