Most GOP members either promised or hinted at not cutting benefits on Social Security and minimal reductions of Medicare -- at least for anyone 55 or over.
One hears steady rumors (but only rumors) that the GOP majority on the Budget Committee is not going to touch Social Security, will seek minimally greater market-based efficiencies for Medicare and do most of its entitlement cuts in Medicaid (health aid to the poor).
When they combine those efforts with keeping the Bush tax cuts for the entire 10 years, they will be hard-pressed to come in with a budget deficit in 2021 of less than half a trillion dollars. More likely, they are looking at an annual deficit in 2021 of about $600 billion dollars -- only $170 billion less than Obama's proposal.
So, to get the deficit down to a level that the world bond market -- and GOP voters -- consider to be under control, the House GOP will have to propose both letting the Bush tax cuts expire at some point and reducing net costs substantially on Social Security and Medicare.
If they do that, not only might many GOP and independent voters turn on their GOP congressmen in November 2012, but the members may also thereby break their promises not to raise taxes, nor touch Social Security, etc. What should the GOP do?
Back in the 1980 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan made three major promises: 1) Increase our military strength, 2) cut income taxes and 3) reduce the budget deficit. Fortunately for Reagan, he had the foresight during the campaign to give his priorities to those three promises (in the order I have listed them). He was able to keep Nos. 1 and 2, but could not keep the budget-cutting promise.
Today, there are three objectives or promises that many Republican congressmen have: 1) Get the deficit and national debt under control, 2) don't raise taxes and 3) protect full benefits of Social Security and most of Medicare for those over 55.
The GOP will have to decide which of those laudable objectives have priority over the others -- because I would be amazed (but delighted) if they can keep any two of them, let alone all three.
For me, the overwhelming historical obligation of our government -- and the reason the Republicans were given the majority in the House -- was to get the deficit and debt under control.
The GOP will risk losing its majority either if they propose coming in with a half-trillion-dollar deficit in the 10th out year -- or if they propose getting the deficit down by lowering costs of Social Security and Medicare and letting Bush tax cuts expire.
They should listen to the command of history and take their chances with the electorate by proposing to solve the fiscal crisis -- even at the price of not honoring their subordinate promises.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.