President Obama sort of endorsed the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Reform Commission in a speech today at George Washington University.
But that wasn’t the point of the speech. The point of the speech was to compare and contrast the Obama Way vs. The Republican Way of getting America’s fiscal house in order.
President Obama drew the sharpest contrast on the issue of Medicare, painting himself as The Defender of the popular program and Republicans as anxious to make the lives of older people a hellish nightmare.
Here is the key graph:
….let me be absolutely clear: I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society. I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs. I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves. We will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations.
And just for good measure, he lathered up the senior vote some more with a further promise to protect Social Security, while reminding everyone that Republicans would like to take the Social Security Trust Fund and give it to their fund-raising friends in the financial services industry.
That includes, by the way, our commitment to Social Security. While Social Security is not the cause of our deficit, it faces real long-term challenges in a country that is growing older. As I said in the State of the Union, both parties should work together now to strengthen Social Security for future generations. But we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.
All in all, it was effective campaign rhetoric. With each passing day, the 2012 presidential campaign seems more and more likely to pivot on the issue of Medicare. The Obama White House will do everything it can to make sure that it does. To that end, today’s speech was a political success.
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