But when asked if he had just green-lighted the idea, Obama demurred: “We are willing to look at any idea that’s out there that we think will help. Bu we’ve got to do so in a responsible way … A lot of ideas that look good on paper, when you start digging into them it turns out that they’re more complicated and they may end up not working the way they’re supposed to.”
The president criticized the Tea Party movement as bereft of solutions to the nation’s biggest problems, namely the deficit and the debt, which Obama said is driven largely by the big three entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Obama knocked Tea Party leaders for only touting tax cuts instead of offering solutions to looming debt problems, contradicting his own attacks on conservatives who have said they would change or reduce entitlement programs.
“The challenge I think for the Tea Party movement is to identify specifically what would you do. It’s not enough just to say, ‘Get control of spending,’” Obama said. “I think it’s important for you to say, ‘You know, I’m willing to cut veterans benefits.’ Or, ‘I’m willing to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits.’ Or, ‘I’m willing to see these taxes go up.’”
However, Obama and many in the Democratic party have attacked some of the most prominent Tea Party candidates in this election cycle for the very thing the president asserted they were not offering: ideas on how to reduce the entitlement obligation.
Republicans, Obama said in his Aug. 14 weekly address, are “pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress this fall.”
“It’s right up there on their to-do list with repealing some of the Medicare benefits and reforms that are adding at least a dozen years to the fiscal health of Medicare – the single longest extension in history,” Obama said. “That agenda is wrong for seniors, it’s wrong for America, and I won’t let it happen.”
Obama and top Democrats have attacked Tea Party favorites Rand Paul in Kentucky, Joe Miller in Alaska, Sharron Angle in Nevada and others for proposing different changes or even a phasing out of Medicare and Social Security.
Yet Obama represented the Tea Party movement and Republicans as having a platform consisting only of extending tax cuts.
“What you can’t do, which is what I’ve been hearing a lot from the other side, is saying, ‘We’re going to control government spending, we’re going to propose $4 trillion of additional tax cuts, and that magically somehow things are going to work,’” Obama said.