I hate it when Obama gives credence to the right wing's "Social Security is broken" meme (not to mention their oh-so-inconsistent fixation on the deficit), but by most accounts, the planned changes to Social Security sound like positive ones, like raising the cap on earnings. We'll be keeping an eye on it:
WASHINGTON - Just one week after President Obama signed a stimulus package designed to give a short-term boost to the economy, some of the nation's top budget analysts plan to deliver a stark warning today at a White House summit that an even more foreboding long-term crisis will unfold unless Obama quickly fixes Social Security, health care, the tax code, and more.
While the $787 billion stimulus plan relies on tax cuts and increased spending, the list of problems to be addressed at the "Fiscal Responsibility Summit" could result in a series of painful political decisions that might eventually include tax increases and cuts in government benefits.
And although the stimulus package was passed almost entirely by Democrats, any significant changes on taxes and entitlements are considered unlikely without bipartisan support.
The measures to control the federal deficit are considered so controversial that some members of Congress are urging that Obama create a powerful commission, composed of leaders of both parties, to reach a "grand bargain" that would be subject to an up-or-down vote in Congress, possibly with no amendments allowed.
"The stimulus was political nirvana: cut taxes and raise spending," said Robert Bixby, executive director of the fiscal watchdog group Concord Coalition, who is among those invited to the summit. "This is the opposite; it is the political agenda from hell."
Dave N.: Obama's framing at the opening speech of the summit was superb:
Obama: In the end, however, if we want to rebuild our economy and restore discipline and honesty to our budget, we will need to change the way we do business here in Washington. We're not going to be able to fall back into the same old habits, and make the same inexcusable mistakes: The repeated failure to act as our economy spiraled deeper into crisis. The casual dishonesty of hiding irresponsible spending with clever accounting tricks. The costly overruns, the fraud and abuse, the endless excuses. This is exactly what the American people rejected when they went to the polls. They sent us here to usher in a new era of responsibility in Washington, to start living within our means again, and being straight with them about where their tax dollars are going, and empowering them with all the information they need to hold all of us, their representatives, accountable.