President Obama has decided not to endorse his deficit commission's recommendation to raise the retirement age, and otherwise reduce Social Security benefits, in Tuesday's State of the Union address, cheering liberals and drawing a stark line between the White House and key Republicans in Congress.
Over the weekend, the White House informed Democratic lawmakers and advocates for seniors that Obama will emphasize the need to reduce record deficits in the speech, but that he will not call for reducing spending on Social Security - the single largest federal program - as part of that effort.Liberals, who have been alarmed by Obama's recent to shift to the center and his effort to court the nation's business community, applauded the decision, arguing that Social Security cuts are neither necessary to reduce current deficits nor a wise move politically.
Sure, it may be an unwise political move right now (Americans from across the spectrum oppose Social Security cuts), but like it or not, those cuts are surely coming -- and sooner than we'd like to think. If only we had a president who would proudly and courageously assure voters that when it comes to issues requiring leadership and responsibility, he'd rather be "a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president." Such a bold, principled leader would undoubtedly stand up to his political base and imperil his own electoral fortunes in the name of undertaking the difficult task of addressing a looming crisis. Either that, or he'd be (once again) exposed as being all talk.