Dems Worrying Liberals With Talk of Entitlement Reform
Out of cash.
3:20 PM, Jul 13, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
I can't help but feel there may be hope for the nation yet when progressives start getting nervous about what Democrats are saying on entitlements.
Fred Barnes highlighted Obama's entitlement opportunity in a Wall Street Journal column yesterday, pointing out that Deficit Commission Chairs Democrat Erskine Bowles and former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson have both been entitlement reformers in the past:
I'm wary of ever getting too hopeful about the chances that Congress could actually tackle the entitlement spending crisis. After all, they ignored about 60 percent of the public's opposition to pass a $2 trillion new entitlement this year. But, in the wake of that epically irresponsible move and the public's reaction to record deficits, even Democrats are making noise about some formerly untouchable programs.
House Maj. Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer suggested raising the retirement age was not out of the question in a speech in a June speech:
House Maj. Whip James Clyburn, when he's not accusing the GOP of funding Alvin Greene, is also talking about the retirement age:
This didn't stop Dems from happily clobbering Republican Minority Leader John Boehner when he, too, suggested raiding the retirement age, so one step forward, two steps back.
But there's more. Former SEIU head and now member of the Deficit Commission Andy Stern last week suggested, to very little fanfare, that the government should invest Social Security funds in Wall Street to increase returns on them. My, it wasn't long ago that that sort of comment could get the whole of the Democratic caucus decrying your "risky scheme" to rob the Greatest Generation of their benefits. But times have changed:
Let's lay aside the rather predictable fact that Andy Stern thinks "government money" is something that can exist independently of "individual taxpayer money." He's a labor liberal; of course he thinks the government will invest in the market better than you will, no matter how misguided that might be. But the fact that he's talking about investing in the market, and that this freaks out everyone at Democratic Underground, is a move in the direction of common sense:
And, we come full circle with the president's hand-picked deficit guy speaking some truth to the nation's governors:
Could there actually be a chance for Washington to rise above the old political bickering and reach across the aisle to come to solutions? Might they be able to discard the notions of red-state ideas and blue-state ideas, and simply embrace solutions that work, in their quest to make the touch choices? Improbably, Obama's unifiying rhetoric and bipartisan vision can now be applied more accurately to the formerly toxic idea of Social Security reform than it can to his own agenda. Hopenchange.
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