President Obama has taken plenty of heat from both the left and right for his proposed budget, says Glenn Thrush in Politico, largely because he shied away from tackling what even he agrees is "the country's major fiscal problem" — entitlement reform. But to Obama's fellow Democrats, "this omission was no sin. It was a gift." The way they see it, the president has set "a political trap" for Republicans, who are divided between a conservative bloc insisting on major changes to Medicare and Social Security, and "a GOP leadership wary of the political peril of tinkering with Americans’ retirement security." Here, an excerpt:
With Obama refusing to offer his own plan for entitlements, congressional Republicans — as the president noted — rushed in to fill the vacuum. ... Republican leaders have ruefully agreed to unveil their own list of "significant, not around-the-edges" reforms, according to a GOP aide.
"They are suckers," said one senior Democratic congressional aide of the House GOP plans to release the first detailed proposals to reduce entitlement spending. "They have painted themselves into a corner."
Under pressure from about 100 conservatives to tackle the issue — possibly through a new privatization plan that was part of the party’s midterm blueprint — the GOP leadership knows it is taking the first bite of a wormy political apple. “None of the options polls well,” lamented one Republican insider.