by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jim McTague can’t tell, as he explains to readers of his latest “D.C. Current” column in Barron’s.
The devil really is in the details—which explains why President Barack Obama is loath to discuss the minutiae of his proposal to curb the runaway entitlement spending that threatens to swallow up the federal budget. …
… OBAMA IS NEITHER SPECIFIC nor detailed. The president claims that the same deal he put forward over the past two years remains in play. But he put forward several deals over that time frame, and the more recent ones are so vague that not even a ratings agency would put too much faith in them.
Republicans have no idea what Obama is talking about. We The People certainly have not a clue. Obama has shifted the political process from the halls of Congress to this city’s back rooms and fancy restaurants; and equally disturbing, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have gone merrily along. The warring parties may not agree on tax and spending policy, but both sides are quick to keep the citizenry in the dark.
Obama’s boldest entitlement-reform proposal was made privately to House Speaker John Boehner in 2011. Bob Woodward, the famed investigative reporter, obtained a copy of a July 19, 2011, draft by Rob Nabors, the president’s deputy chief of staff, who at the time was working at the Office of Management and Budget. The president proposed cutting Medicare by $250 billion from 2012 to 2021 by—this is a shocker—altering the eligibility age and “adjusting premiums.”
I contacted the White House and asked if the Nabors deal was the real deal. The White House referred me to a 2013 fact sheet that is a monument to the president’s vagueness. He would ask “the most fortunate” to pay more for Medicare; reduce payments to drug companies by $140 billion over 10 years; and realize another $120 billion from “other health savings.”