But revenue, as important as it is, is only part of the problem. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Bowles-Simpson) said it ought to be one-third of the solution. For Obama it’s 50 percent. For Boehner, 22 percent.
Bowles-Simpson proposed that two-thirds come from spending reductions, especially for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
All those programs are going broke and will bankrupt the country unless overhauled by some combination of means-testing benefits and premiums, gradually raising the retirement age and changing the indexing formula for inflation.
Corker’s plan would not include any budget cap on Medicare, which Democrats say would impoverish seniors, but the Congressional Budget Office says that letting private insurance plans compete with fee-for-service Medicare would still save $641 billion over 10 years.
Obama clearly has leverage over Republicans on taxes — and he’s going to win. But Republicans have leverage on spending.
Congress has to fund the government after the current continuing resolution runs out in March. The limit on the national debt will need renewing in January or February.
Obama can like it or not, but Republicans hold the House, and they will get entitlement changes — or else.
So it’s time for a deal.
Republicans are going to risk the wrath of Rush Limbaugh, Sen. Jim DeMint, the tea party and potential primary opponents to raise taxes — albeit under duress.
Now Obama should be willing to risk offending AARP, the unions and liberals by moving entitlement programs — not to mention the country — toward solvency.
After all, he doesn’t have to run again — and having the nation with its debt under control would be a legacy worth having.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.