The Washington Post: In State Of The Union Address, Obama Lays Out His Second-Term Agenda
Somewhat more substantively, he called for a larger deficit-reduction deal built around loophole-closing tax reform and what he called "modest" reforms to Medicare and entitlements. In an apparent effort to rally Democrats to this cause, he called on "those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare" to "embrace" reform. Yet in promising the same amount of Medicare savings as the Simpson-Bowles commission proposed, Mr. Obama did not mention that this would be a mere $341 billion over 10 years (2/12).
Los Angeles Times: Obama's Less-Is-More Agenda
He exhorted Republicans (for the umpteenth time) to adopt his solution to the impending crisis over automatic spending cuts: closing tax loopholes that benefit "the well-off and well-connected." In return, he offered to support modest reforms in Medicare, an offer he has also made before. And, significantly, he contended that a modest amount of deficit reduction is all we need (Doyle McManus, 2/13).
The Wall Street Journal: The President's Plans
He also spoke of "entitlement reform," but his only two concrete ideas were price controls on drug companies and more means-testing for affluent seniors. These won't come close to solving the health-care entitlement problem that even he admits is unsustainable, which is why Republicans don't think he's serious (2/13).
The New York Times: Rubio's Rebuttal
In his speech, Mr. Rubio followed the Republican rebranding strategy by rephrasing the party's grand old policies without offering any new ideas. ... Mr. Rubio declared that he was particularly concerned about seniors who depend on Medicare, like his mother, and that "anyone who is in favor of leaving Medicare exactly the way it is right now, is in favor of bankrupting it." Funny Mr. Rubio should say that, because on Tuesday night, Mr. Obama argued that we can't leave Medicare as is: "Those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms." ... Mr. Rubio didn't actually mention how he would fix Medicare. But we all know that he supported Paul Ryan's plan to turn it into a voucher system (Andrew Rosenthal, 2/12).
Bloomberg: The Medicare Change Obama Was Talking About
President Barack Obama promised to save as much money on Medicare in the next decade as was proposed by the Bowles-Simpson commission. That would include, he said, lowering tax subsidies for drug companies and asking more affluent beneficiaries to pay more. And he said it would also include making a fundamental change in the way the government pays for care -- by basing bills not on fee-for-service but on "the quality of care our seniors receive." This explains why John Kitzhaber, the governor of Oregon, was watching the State of the Union address from first lady Michelle Obama's box. Kitzhaber has made his state's Medicaid program a laboratory that will test a promising model for making that change (Mary Duenwald, 2/13).
The Washington Post: Obama's Message: 'We Can Fix This'
Obama even made the country's intractable fiscal mess sound soluble. He didn't offer new proposals, but he made clearer than in any speech I can recall that he's willing to make real changes in Medicare and other entitlement programs to begin to get the deficit under control. He said he was willing to offer savings on Medicare that would equivalent to those proposed by the Simpson-Bowles commission. Now he should show the way by proposing those cuts, rather than throwing this rhetorical pledge into the miasma of congressional budget politics (David Ignatius, 2/12).
Los Angeles Times: Obama's New Vision: Doable?
Yes, there are problems left over from his first four years: high unemployment and slow economic growth. He rightly called on Congress to close the nation's long-term budget gap by reforming entitlements and simplifying the tax code, rather than making across-the-board reductions that only chip away at the deficit. But it wasn't clear how he'd get his ideas, many of them recycled from his first term, through a polarized Congress (2/13).
And a few opinions on topics other than the State of the Union address --
The New York Times: Calorie Detective
Diet programs revolve around a proven principle: if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. The calorie is the defining metric. And so, in the interest of public health, the Food and Drug Administration requires most packaged foods to list their calories, among other data, on labels. To help combat obesity in New York City, the Department of Health requires most chain restaurants to post calorie content on their menus and fines those who don't comply. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, a national program will soon follow (Casey Neistat, 2/12).