WaPo to Obama: Don't Ignore Entitlements

Last week at Knox College, President Obama gave the first of a series of speeches on the economy. He called on Washington to pass policies that would give middle class families a "better shot" in the global economy, emphasizing education, investments, and research. But in a piece today, the Washington Post editorial board notes that President Obama left out a major piece in making the nation more competitive: entitlement reform.

The country's debt path is unsustainable and the problem is unlikely to be resolved without reforms to entitlement programs. If nothing is done, the nation's debt will grow and weigh down growth:

By the tendentious standards of politics, it was okay for the president to challenge Republicans to come up with better ideas than his, while simultaneously portraying most of them as mindlessly bent on a government shutdown. What’s rather less forgivable, however, is that, even though the president of the United States is well into a highly promoted series of major addresses on the future of the U.S. economy, searching the text of his speeches for “entitlement reform” or “entitlement” yields nothing but “phrase not found."

Yes, Mr. Obama told Democrats that they “can’t just stand pat and just defend whatever government is doing.” Addressing Republicans, he pronounced himself “ready to work” on tax reform, or a “balanced, long-term fiscal plan that replaces the mindless cuts currently in place.”

But that’s a far cry from leveling with the public about the fact that Social Security, Medicare and the rest are crowding out other domestic priorities — including those that the president emphasized in his speeches — and that these programs are at the heart of the country’s long-term fiscal challenges, which have still not been addressed even as the deficit has declined in the short term.

Six months into President Obama's second term, there is the question of what the President's legacy will be. The economy is a good place to start. But if the President and Congress want to have a major long-term impact, they should turn to the tough decisions that need to be made on these programs. Writes the editorial board:

As president, Mr. Obama is the one player in the capital’s drama best positioned to represent the national interest on entitlement reform; as a second-term president, he is also in the best position to take the political heat for doing so. It is still possible that he will do so in his remaining speeches. Until then, though, Mr. Obama’s vision for the country can only be described as incomplete.

Click here to read the full editorial.