Okay, Eric Cantor makes it official: the Republicans are doing entitlement reforms (and from the sound of it, Ryan is taking the lead):
Q: Mr. Cantor, in your opening remarks you said that the House Republican budget will include entitlement reforms, unlike the President’s. Could you give a little bit more detail on that? And also could you lay out where you think the playing field is on budget matters? Because you have got a lot of different things going on right now. You have got the 2011 budget you guys are working, on, the 2012 that the President released, your 2012 budget, the debt ceiling. How do you see things playing out and where they stand right now in terms of working with or against the President?
Mr. Cantor: Well, your question is a good one, and all this is going to be sort of moving simultaneously. Where we end up in the fiscal year 2011 expenditures will impact the situation in fiscal year 2012 for sure, so we hopefully will be able to manage bringing down spending to 2008 levels for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 and operate with that certainty. Your question about the budget itself and the entitlement inclusion, yes, we will include entitlement reform provisions in our budget, again, unlike the President, and unlike Harry Reid who doesn’t even admit there needs to be any reform of Social Security.
We are going to lead. That is why I said the President missed an opportunity to lead today, to try and address the biggest fiscal challenge we have. And so we are going to lead and include that in our budget. You have heard me say before it is high time for us to begin, from the standpoint where we are talking about reforms needed, that you have a population 55 and older here, and we need to tell them that their benefits and the system that they are used to will stay the same. But it is for the rest of us, 54 and younger, that we are going to have to have some reforms to these systems in order to save them for the crowd that is 54 and younger. So you will see those details developed as we come forward with Mr. Ryan’s budget and his committee’s work. But again, it is important to note who is leading and who is not.
Q: Do you expect adjustments to both Social Security and Medicare?
Mr. Cantor: I think you are going to see some very bold reforms included. I am hopeful that we can get some cooperation from Harry Reid and the President, because these are programs that touch the lives of every American and we don’t want, nor can we, make these changes by ourselves. We want to work with the Democrats and the President in making changes to save these programs. But we can’t do it alone. You saw what happened the last time a major entitlement program was put on the books or reformed when one party did it. You have got the fiscal disaster that is ObamaCare.
If Republicans are really going to do both big discretionary cuts and entitlement reform — bold indeed.