The Washington Post's lead editorial criticizes Obama for not getting serious about reducing the deficit:
PRESIDENT OBAMA entered office promising to be a different kind of politician - one who would speak honestly with the American people about the hard choices they face and would help make those hard calls. Tuesday night's State of the Union Address would have been the moment to make good on that promise. He disappointed. [...]
In his first year in office, Mr. Obama said he couldn't confront the nation's long-term fiscal peril because of imminent financial collapse. In his second year, he said he needed health-care reform first, to "bend the curve" of rising health-care costs. He called for a bipartisan commission to study the debt and promised to pivot in his third year to fiscal reform.
Now that bipartisan commission has reported, but Mr. Obama didn't fully endorse any of its recommendations. To the contrary, he promised more jobs for teachers and construction workers. He warned against "slashing" Social Security benefits. Corporate tax reform is fine, but if it's revenue-neutral, it only postpones - and makes more politically difficult - the task of narrowing the nation's deficit.
So what happens now? Maybe some members of Congress will display the courage the president has lacked. Maybe Mr. Obama, in the budget he proposes next month, will grapple more realistically with the hard choices than he did Tuesday night. But even if he does, how can he expect public support if he hasn't made the case? From the man who promised to change Washington, it seemed all too drearily familiar.
"The best you could say is that he left the door open to work with Congress on these issues," write the Post's editors. It's a door that Peter Wehner encourages Republicans to walk through now, despite the perils:
The way to frame this argument, according to those who want to take on entitlement programs, is to simply state the reality of the situation: we can act now, in a relatively incremental and responsible way, in order to avoid the painful austerity measures that are occurring in Europe and elsewhere. Or we can delay action and, at some point not far into the future, be unable to avoid cuts that will cause a great deal of social unrest.
So we’re clear, the entitlement that really matters is Medicare. “The fact is,” my Ethics and Public Policy Center colleague Yuval Levin told Michael Gerson, “Medicare is going to crush the government, and if Republicans leave it unreformed then the debt picture is very, very ugly. They might never — literally never — show the budget reaching balance. Not in the 10-year window and not if they take their graphs out a hundred years. Obama could probably show balance just past the budget window in the middle of the next decade because of the massive Medicare cuts he proposes, even if in practice they will never actually happen.”
Over at the Daily Caller, Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel also make the case that the GOP should take up entitlement reform now.