Charles Krauthammer | Cliff-jumping with Barack

Why are Republicans playing the Democrats’ game that the “fiscal cliff” is all about taxation?

House Speaker John Boehner already made the preemptive concession of agreeing to raise revenue. But the insistence on doing so by eliminating deductions without raising marginal rates is now the subject of fierce Republican infighting.

Where is the other part of President Obama’s vaunted “balanced approach”? Where are the spending cuts, both discretionary and entitlement: Medicare, Medicaid and now Obamacare (the health-care trio) and Social Security?

Social Security is the easiest to solve. So you get a sense of the Democrats’ inclination to reform entitlements when Dick Durbin, the Senate Democrats’ No. 2, says Social Security is off the table because it “does not add a penny to our deficit.”

This is absurd. In 2012, Social Security adds $165 billion to the deficit. Democrats pretend that Social Security is covered through 2033 by its trust fund. Except that the trust fund is a fiction, a mere “bookkeeping” device, as the Office of Management and Budget itself has written. The trust fund’s IOUs “do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits.” Future benefits “will have to be financed by raising taxes, borrowing from the public, or reducing benefits or other expenditures.”

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