Social Security reform is splitting President Obama’s economic and political advisers.
Obama is being pulled in opposite directions by those whose priorities are fiscal and those whose No. 1 concern is electoral.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and Sperling’s deputy, Jason Furman — leading figures in the president’s economic team — are pressing Obama to cut Social Security benefits if necessary, say sources familiar with their positions.
But Obama’s political team, led by David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Jim Messina, are urging the president to understand that backing benefit cuts could prove disastrous to his 2012 reelection hopes, sources say.
The political team is winning the argument so far, but internal debate rages at the White House as Republicans in Congress insist sweeping efforts to restore government finances must include Social Security reform.
Obama’s treated the Social Security problem the way he treated Afghanistan: bury his head in the sand and hope it will go away, at least until after the 2012 General Election.
Courage. A spine of steel.
The Onion‘s take (caution for profanity):