(please scroll to bottom for update)
In advance of the President's speech tonight and with respect to a massive and unsustainable entitlement program, consider this an opportunity lost.
More than two months after his deficit commission first laid out a plan for reining in the national debt, President Obama has yet to embrace any of its controversial provisions - and he is unlikely to break that silence Tuesday night.
While Obama plans to stress the need to reduce record budget deficits in his State of the Union address, he is not expected to get into the details and will instead call for members of both parties to work together to tackle the problem, according to congressional and administration sources.
Democratic lawmakers said that approach makes sense as the White House begins a delicate dance with resurgent Republicans over government spending, tax reform and the other difficult issues that will shape the debate into the 2012 presidential campaign. Until Republicans signal a willingness to work with Democrats to raise taxes as well as cut spending, the lawmakers said, it would be a mistake for Obama to endorse painful policies that could become the target of political attack.
The direction of Obama's speech became apparent over the weekend, when the White House informed Democratic lawmakers and advocates for the elderly that he would not endorse the commission's recommendation to raise the retirement age and make other cuts to Social Security - the single largest federal program.
Liberals, who have been alarmed by Obama's recent to shift to the center and his effort to court the nation's business community, applauded the decision, arguing that Social Security cuts are neither necessary to reduce current deficits nor a wise move politically. Polls show that large majorities of Americans in both parties - even in households that identify themselves as part of the tea party movement - oppose cutting Social Security benefits.
Granted, Bush got absolutely shelacked when he broached the idea of Social Security reform back in 2005 which included privatizing merely up to 10% of one's social security account but 5 years can make quite a bit of difference.
As opposed to 5 years ago, we now have a much greater appreciation for debt burden caused, in part, by deeply-entrenched entitlement programs but in '05 when the Republicans controlled the Oval Office and both houses, Bush's plan was smeared as a right-wing power grab and a blow to the American dream as seen through the statist eyes of FDR.
While it is appreciated that welfare reform is relatively low-hanging fruit as opposed to a program that touches the lives of nearly every American, President Obama, instead of leading and perhaps seizing his own Only-Nixon-Could-Go-To-China moment, is choosing to kick the can down the road for future generations (and administrations) to deal with.
For a man who said he would rather be a great one-term president than a mediocre two-termer, there is a re-election campaign to start preparing for and with a bump in his polling numbers... mediocrity awaits!
H/T: Hot Air
(UPDATE #1): The President's SOTU speech can be found here.
Like you all needed any encouragement, now you don't have an excuse. Now go out for dinner or better yet, stay in and make dinner for your better half and drink heavily.
However, that the SOTU has become prom night, that train wreck element may be too difficult to resist.
Also, about that tea party response to the SOTU? Eh, who thought that would be a good idea? Too third-partyish. Again, the best value of the tea party is to beat the Republican Party about the head and shoulders. A separate response may give some wobbly Republicans the idea that they will not be held accountable for their actions there in D.C.