TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein: Let’s just say it: The Democrats are the problem

In a high-profile essay in the Washington Post, think tank scholars Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein declared that the current morass in Washington can almost entirely be laid at the feet of the GOP.

“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics,” they wrote. “It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

But just take a look at the number one issue facing America domestically: our looming entitlement crisis. If we don’t radically change our entitlement programs and put them on a sustainable course, our country is in deep, catastrophic trouble. We face in the neighborhood of $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. That’s trillion with a “t.”

In terms of getting our fiscal house in order, nothing even comes close to entitlement reform. Defense, foreign aid, the bridge to nowhere, taxes on the rich — it’s all just noise. The entitlement programs, especially Medicare, are where the money is at. But what has the Democratic leadership proposed — on paper — to fix our long-term debt problem that is serious and even the slightest bit politically risky? I can’t think of a single thing.

Mann and Ornstein suggest that while the Democrats aren’t exactly perfect, in the end they are all basically just “centrist protectors of government, reluctantly willing to revamp programs and trim retirement and health benefits to maintain its central commitments in the face of fiscal pressures.”

There is nothing centrist about this. It is radical when what threatens our national long-term prosperity and solvency is exactly what the Democrats steadfastly refuse to consider touching. In fact, they apparently oppose such reform enthusiastically.

In a Wall Street Journal review of Robert Draper’s new book on the current Congress, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl summarized how the Democratic House caucus was prepared to oppose serious entitlement reform that was supposed to be part of the “Grand Bargain” President Obama was working on with Speaker of the House John Boehner in summer 2011 (it was not, of course, released on paper):

“In ‘Do Not Ask What Good We Do,’ Robert Draper vividly describes a closed-door caucus meeting of House Democrats just after the world learned about Mr. Obama’s secret talks with Mr. Boehner,” Karl writes.

“Nancy Pelosi prepared her fellow House Democrats to go to battle against the president. She told them she would deliver the message directly to the White House the next day. ‘Do I have your permission,’ Ms. Pelosi, her voice rising, asked her fellow Democrats, ‘to go over there and say, ‘We’re not cutting Medicare, we’re not cutting Social Security?’ The party rank-and-file ‘applauded wildly,’ Mr. Draper says.”