After You, Mr. President: Sen. Roy Blunt on Social Security

Senator Roy Blunt Says With Entitlement Reform, the President Must Go First

March 2, 2011, 6:38 PM

March 3, 2011 -- Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says he believes when it comes to budget cuts, and specifically entitlements such as Social Security, President Obama has to take the first step.

"Look, you've got the biggest microphone," Blunt said of President Obama. "You've got the biggest podium but we're ready to sign on before you go public."

In an interview for ABC News' "Subway Series," Blunt made it clear that if the President isn't willing to "go there" – "there" being entitlement reform – the Republicans probably won't either.

"They've got to get serious and we got to get serious," Blunt told ABC News while riding the underground subway inside the U.S. Capitol. "It is foolish for us to go out there and get a bunch of Democrats saying there's no Social Security problem or there's no Medicare problem or no Medicaid problem."

He added, "I don't think we get a result if we do it on our own."

Blunt's comments may put him at odds with the House Republican leadership, which intends to include entitlement reform in its upcoming budget for 2012.

As Speaker of the House John Boehner told the National Association of Religious Broadcasters last week, "To not address entitlement programs, as is the case with the budget the president has put forward, would be an economic and moral failure."

You can watch an extended clip of Jonathan Karl's interview with Senator Blunt HERE.

Sen. Blunt, who served in the House of Representatives for fourteen years before being elected to the U.S. Senate last year, criticized the President for ignoring the recommendations of his own Deficit Reduction Commission.

"He's the guy who appointed the Deficit Reduction Commission. Nobody made him do that," Blunt said. "He appointed the commission and a substantial majority of it wasn't even mentioned in State of the Union."

Recalling a lesson from his time in House when the Republicans last attempted entitlement reform, Blunt conceded that while cutting such programs has to be discussed, the American public isn't always on board.

Blunt talked about the reform effort of 2005: "It was about 100 days, every phone I had rang all the time and not one person called and said thanks for trying to reform these programs or thanks for trying to cut these programs. Every single call…was don't cut my program."

Sen. Roy Blunt and the Budget

But with a deficit looming at the $14 trillion mark, it seems this push might produce a different result.

"I think the country is at a very different place and we are now so far out of balance, you know, $3.8 trillion in spending at the federal level, and collecting $2.2 trillion. I mean, it hasn't been that long that the whole budget was less than $2 trillion."

Sen. Blunt, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also weighed in on the situation in Libya, saying the U.S. should enforce a no-fly zone to prevent Col. Moammar Gadhafi from attacking civilians from the air.

"He's unstable now and he's been viciously trying to hold onto control of that country and we should get the other nations of the world who will join us to join us in keeping those helicopters on the ground. You know keep the air clear is something we can do with a lot of involvement," Blunt said.

Pressed if the U.S. military should be directly involved, Blunt replied, "We absolutely should enforce a no-fly zone...We absolutely should do that now."

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