Boehner: House Republicans Will Cut Entitlements, We Just Won’t Explain How

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal that was published today, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) explained that House Republicans, when they unveil their 2012 budget, plan to include cuts to so-called entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. But in a moment reminiscent of Republican promises to cut spending while not naming any specific spending cuts, Boehner said that the Republican budget won’t actually include specifics for how to achieve those entitlement cuts:

House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that he’s determined to offer a budget this spring that curbs Social Security and Medicare, despite the political risks, and that Republicans will try to persuade voters that sacrifices are needed…Mr. Boehner made it clear the Republicans are not themselves offering a detailed plan anytime soon. Rather, the budget is likely to contain cost containment goals, but no specific ideas on how to achieve them.

But Boehner had no qualms about laying out specific entitlement cuts back in June, when he said (in remarks he later attempted to walk back) that the retirement age should be increased to 70:

“We’re all living a lot longer than anyone ever expected,” Boehner said in a meeting with the editors of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “And I think that raising the retirement age — going out 20 years, so you’re not affecting anyone close to retirement — and eventually getting the retirement age to 70 is a step that needs to be taken.

Boehner’s justification for this regressive cut to Social Security is based on the faulty premise that America’s life-expectancy is increasing (when, in reality, its only increasing for upper-class Americans who don’t work in debilitating, labor-intensive jobs). And let’s not forget, Boehner demagogued the Affordable Care Act for its provisions slowing the growth of Medicare, saying that the “government takeover of health care bill would cut seniors’ Medicare benefits by $500 billion.”

A New NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday “suggests Republicans significantly overestimated the public’s eagerness to tackle the federal deficit by cutting programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.” 77 percent of respondents said that cuts to Social Security are unacceptable, while 76 said the same for Medicare and 67 for Medicaid. So it seems the path that Boehner has chosen is to assert that cuts will occur, score those savings in the House Republican budget, but not actually explain what those cuts would mean in practical terms.