The Washington Post

The big story is Democrats and entitlements, not Republicans and taxes

The debate in Washington over how to avoid the fiscal cliff has led to suggestions that if Republicans would just agree to raise tax rates, everything would fall into place and a deal would be easy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Wall Street Journal news article "Entitlements Split Democrats" ran Nov. 20 on Page A4, but it is the most important political story to date surrounding how Washington will — or will not — deal with the approaching economic calamity. 

The big story here isn’t the Republicans being slow to agree to raise tax rates, it is the Democrats’ refusal to curb entitlement spending. Entitlement reform is where most of the money will come from if we are going to reach an agreement, get our financial affairs in order, and save ourselves from another recession — or worse.

No serious person thinks we can tax our way to real deficit reduction. Most of the savings must come from spending restraint. The president has acknowledged that we need to curb spending more than we need to raise taxes, but so far, the Democratic leadership in Congress and the White House hasn’t said what reductions in entitlement growth they would support.

The political debate is headed for a dishonest place if it continues to be obsessively focused on Republicans disagreeing over raising tax rates.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.

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