I am with Yuval on this one.
Unless Republican leaders strive to create a coherent strategy on entitlements, particularly Medicare, lawmakers from both parties will exploit this weakness when it comes to today’s spending cuts.
Individual congressmen and -women who aren’t devoted to making the cuts — especially when the cuts affect their districts or the districts of members with whom they trade favors — could instead say: “Look, I just can’t give you this particular [$x million / billion] right now, but I am cooperative and responsible and I get that spending is too high. So I’ll give you the same amount in Medicare cuts as an alternative. That’s where the big problem is, anyway.”
In taking this approach, individual lawmakers would figure that their leadership, terrified of getting too specific in public on entitlement cuts, would stop bothering them.
To guard even scant hope of achieving big spending cuts this time around, Republicans have to head off this tactic. They must be able to say to individual members, “Yeah, we like your entitlement-cut proposals. Bring your ideas to the guys working on our bill on that issue. But we still need your discretionary cuts, too.”
— Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.