Boehner Says Obama's Open to Entitlement Cuts

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 4 2011 10:11 AM

Boehner Says Obama's Open to Entitlement Cuts

He talks to the Wall Street Journal about many things, but the most interesting stuff comes when Boehner describes a conversation about entitlement reform with President Obama.

Mr. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said he told President Barack Obama that he would take the political plunge alongside him if the president announced his own willingness to tackle changes to those programs.

"I offered to the president we could lock arms and walk out and begin the conversation about the size of the problem," Mr. Boehner said, adding that Mr. Obama responded "positively."

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Before the State of the Union, some liberal journalists like Harold Myerson warned that Obama was thinking about talking entitlement cuts in the speech -- spanish fly for the pundit class and for Republicans. In the end, Obama only feinted at entitlement reform, mentioning no specifics. But several Democratic senators, including Chris Coons and Claire McCaskill, have talked about entitlement reform coming up in the budget debate. Paul Ryan has said, after prodding, that it will be in the Republican budget. Some Democrats I know are convinced the White House is luring Republicans into a tar pit, getting them to propose the sort of Social Security/Medicare cuts that bounced back on them in 1982 and 1996. This assumes the White House gets to control the debate. That hasn't been the theme of the budget fight so far.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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