So if voters really want balance, they should root for Republicans to force spending cuts during the coming negotiations to raise the debt ceiling. As Heritage Foundation fellow J.D. Foster sardonically told me, the debt ceiling talks offer "our last best hope for peace."
Earlier in the fiscal cliff negotiations, the president tentatively accepted a proposal to reduce spending by using a different inflation index to compute Social Security benefits. For whatever reason -- maybe he wasn't in a hurry -- Obama yanked that proposition.
During the 2011 "grand bargain" talks, Obama reportedly privately agreed to raise the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare. The president knows what needs to be done, but he won't push it.
"As we get into future budget discussions, we've confirmed something that we at Heritage have thought for a long time," Foster observed. Those reforms -- along with more means-testing for entitlements -- are easy to explain, accepted on both sides of the aisle and doable.
"We proved that in the recent fight," Foster said. "Since there's such strong agreement, all we need is a president to lead and we can do it."