The Obama White House has not been so adamant about leaving the big entitlement programs alone. In the summer of 2011, Obama and the Republican House speaker, John Boehner, reached a tentative deal to gradually increase the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67. In a separate negotiation between Vice President Joe Biden and House majority leader Eric Cantor, higher premiums for wealthier seniors were on the table.
Now the calculus may be different. Both Obama and the Republican majority in the House have been returned to office. But the tone has changed. Both sides know the public wants a bipartisan solution, and the leaders are talking compromise even as they draw lines in the sand. The question for Obama is how much he can give on entitlements without inflaming his left flank.
“We will make it very clear we will not be supportive of cuts to Medicare and Social Security,” Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, told the Post. “It would be a huge shock and disappointment if the president forgot the reality that he just won a major victory.”