As a fleet of commentators have observed, President Obama used his inaugural address to rally his base and proclaim his far-left bent (which he dared not reveal in the campaign) while pooh-poohing the idea that entitlement reform is needed. It is remarkable, considering the trillions in debt, the wariness of bond rating companies and just the plain ole math, that he no longer seems to care about the things Americans care about — jobs, the debt, rising health-care costs.
All this is music to the ears of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has been frustrated in his attempt to smoke out Senate Democrats on the debt, taxes, entitlements and more. On the floor of the Senate today, McConnell observed, “Too often over the past four years, political considerations have trumped the need to put our country on a sound financial footing and a path to prosperity.” Well, like right now, for example.
If we don’t work together to strengthen our entitlement programs, they will go bankrupt. Automatic cuts will be forced on seniors already receiving benefits, rendering worthless the promises that they’ve built their retirements around. It’s nice to say, as the President did yesterday, that these programs free us to take the risks that make our country great. But if we don’t act to strengthen and protect them now, in a few years they simply won’t be there in their current form.
And if we don’t work together to control the debt, then the cost of our interest payments alone will eventually crowd out funding for things we all agree on — from defense, to infrastructure and assistance for those who need it most.
Then he went after the Senate Democrats with newfound vigor:
Democrats have put off all the hard stuff until now. And our problems have only gotten worse. But that was the first term.
A second term presents the opportunity to do things differently, and in the Senate that means a return to regular order. Later this week, the House plans to send the Senate a bill to address the debt limit in a timely manner.
Once we get it, the Senate should quickly respond. If the Senate version is different than the one the House sends over, send it off to conference. That’s how things are supposed to work around here. We used to call it legislating.
I know a lot of Democrats are afraid of a process that exposes their priorities, particularly on spending and debt. After nearly four years of refusing to pass a budget, they’ve only now reluctantly agreed to develop a spending plan for the coming fiscal year. All I would say to that is that, since the revenue question has been settled, I’m sure the American people are eager to see what other ideas Democrats might have to bring down our ruinous deficits.
The House and the Senate, to the president’s dismay no doubt, now get to shape their own budget. Somehow I don’t think it’s going to match his radical left blueprint.