In his column on Sunday, the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote about the budget debate, saying, “The nation’s debt problem is enormous, but so far President Obama and the lawmakers have tiptoed around the real problems, particularly Medicare. Instead, they’re haggling over the 36 percent of the budget called ‘discretionary spending,’ and particularly the 13 percent known as ‘non-defense discretionary spending.’ Even in the unlikely event that House Republicans can force Obama and Senate Democrats to go along with their $60 billion of cuts in the current fiscal year, that would barely dent this year’s $1.5 trillion deficit, even as it causes chaos and throws hundreds of thousands of people out of work.”
Frank Rich of the New York Times added his voice to the debate, saying Republicans are “slashing federal spending as long as the cuts are quarantined to the small percentage of the budget covering discretionary safety-net programs, education and Big Bird.”
That’s the alternative liberal line of attack to the one described by John: Republicans are slashing the budget to the bone on the smallest slice of the budget while cowardly avoiding the big ticket items, including entitlements.
Here’s the thing, though: last week Republican leaders, who have been in control of the House for barely over a month, announced that in their forthcoming budget they will deal with entitlements. And when asked if they were talking about “minor tinkering,” Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said, “No, I think it’s important that you do comprehensive health care entitlement reform, other kinds of entitlement reform.”
Now that Republicans have committed to dealing with entitlements, including Medicare, we can all assume that when the Ryan budget is released the House GOP will win the praise and support of Messrs. Milbank and Rich for taking on popular programs that are driving our fiscal crisis. Otherwise we might reluctantly draw the conclusion that both men are cynical and intellectually dishonest liberals.