Checking in with the fiscal cliff -- as we try to do no more than once a week -- we see that negotiations are proceeding in exactly the weird, awkward way that you'd expect with President Obama and Speaker John Boehner. This week, Boehner has infuriated conservatives by suggesting he's willing to raise taxes, and now Obama has infuriated liberals by suggesting he might agree to cuts in Social Security payments.
The liberals are right, of course -- in last week's post it was seen that America's deficit problem is heavily on the revenue side and not with government spending. What's more, the White House has in the past acknowledged the reality that Social Security doesn't contribute in any major way to the deficit. So why on earth is Social Security in a deficit-reduction plan? It's what the Republicans want. Cutting entitlements is just what they do.
There's one thing about the fiscal cliff that I don't get. The whole point of this negotiation -- and the reason we're supposed to be so terrified about the fiscal cliff -- is to avoid steep cuts at the Pentagon. Yet the defense budget is the epicenter of waste and bloat in the federal budget. It's exactly what needs to be cut, not Social Security. And yet we don't hear one word about sensible cuts for the Pentagon. Why?