There are two ways. One is to raise the wage base on which Social Security taxes are imposed and raise the 6.2 percent payroll tax on both employers and employees. But these are major tax increases. And the GOP and Tea Party will fix bayonets to fight them.
The other way is to raise the retirement age to 70 and re-index Social Security COLAs (cost-of-living adjustments) to prices, not wages, reducing future benefits for baby boomers and generations X and Y.
Will Pelosi's battered liberals go along with reducing Social Security benefits if Obama proposes it? Or would that tear what is left of his tattered coalition to pieces?
To cut spending to 20 percent of GDP from 24 would require annual slashes of $600 billion, eliminating a sixth of the budget.
Will Democrats go along with that magnitude of cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment benefits, earned income tax credits, infrastructure, Pell grants and welfare?
Will Republicans go along with cuts of that size for the Iraq and Afghan wars, new weapons systems, closing of bases and withdrawal of troops from Korea, Japan or Europe? To get 4 percent of GDP out of defense would require putting the Pentagon on furlough.
Bottom line: The new Republican House has the numbers and will to block new taxes and fund both wars and the rising defense budget. And the president has the veto power to block severe cuts in social programs, which his bloodied forces will demand that he do.
Were this a parliamentary system, Obama would be out of power, as the nation voted to reject his party and reverse the course of the country.
In Britain, under Prime Minister David Cameron, the austerity the people voted for is being imposed. In Virginia and New Jersey, where Govs. Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie were elected in 2009 to change the direction of state government, this is happening.
In Washington, however, where Obama's agenda and party were repudiated by the nation, they still retain the power to prevent the nation from going where America voted to go.
The center has disintegrated. The result: a deadlock of democracy, with neither party responsible and neither accountable, as we drift toward the falls.
Greece, here we come.