In the meantime, Jonathan Bernstein wrote a fantastic post on the vague and misleading language used by deficit hawks:
Long-term projections of the federal budget are very clear. It's all about health care.
Medical costs. Medical costs are going up much faster than inflation. Therefore, Medicare and Medicaid, and any other government programs affected by medical costs, will, long term, get far more expensive than any realistic level of taxation can handle.
So when budget hawks talk about "entitlements," as Andrew Sullivan did today, they're using language that in my view obscures, rather than illuminates, the situation.
The very next thing I read was a piece of reporting by TPM's Brian Beutler (emphasis mine):
"Yes, we will include entitlement reform provisions in our budget," Cantor told reporters at his weekly press availability. "Again, unlike the President, unlike Harry Reid who doesn't even admit there needs to be any reform of Social Security."
See that? Cantor is willing to admit that "entitlements" are the problem. But when he gets specific, he starts talking about Social Security, which is a minor, solvable problem, and not health care costs, which are the true driver of long-term deficits:
I guess since his party just won a huge election landslide while campaigning against a Democratic effort to reign in health care spending, he can't go after Medicare. But health care costs are overwhelmingly the cause of long-term structural deficits. Anyone claiming to be a deficit hawk while only looking hard at that 12% of the budget that is "non-security discretionary spending" is a liar and a charlatan. Focusing on Social Security is only marginally better, but it is still a dodge. If you're not looking at health care costs, you're not being serious about deficits. It is that simple.