House majority leader Steny Hoyer has an article in today’s Wall Street Journal of unvarnished audacity titled “We Can't Run Deficits Forever - Controlling entitlements is the next priority.” Let’s jump to the key graf:
But the single most important thing we can do to get our budget under control is to deal with the costs of our entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Fixing Medicare and Medicaid is inseparable from health-care reform. We will never be able to control the growth in spending of these programs as long as health-care costs continue to increase at more than twice the rate of inflation. We know the policy options necessary to make Social Security fiscally sound: restraining the growth of benefits, bringing more revenues into the system, and raising the retirement age, among others. We simply need the bipartisan will to choose and implement such reforms. This will be an excellent test of the Republicans' newfound commitment to fiscal discipline.Hoyer either has a short memory or enormous cojones to suggest that – now – Republicans need to be the honest brokers of entitlement reform. Remember this “crucial moment of cooperation”?
I suspect that the GOP is tired of playing Charlie Brown to the Democrats’ football-holding Lucy. The Dems are in charge of all legislative levels of government so I’ll give them this advice: you first. Let’s see the Democrats’ plan first and then the Republicans can steal all the tricks from the Dems’ playbook. Let's try out the big cudgel:
“Restraining the growth of benefits” = Grandma is going to have to subsist on cat food
“Bringing more revenues into the system” = Sky-high tax hikes on working Americans
“Raising the retirement age” = Who won’t see benefits until after they’re dead
Don’t come crying to the GOP that you want bipartisanship. What the Democrats really want is political cover for the hard choices that must be made before the wave of Baby Boomers swamps the ship of state. It's all you, baby.
Extra - Andrew Biggs: "Growing costs"