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David Brooks: Republicans Don't "Have The Guts To Propose Spending Cuts"

MARK SHIELDS: Who's responsible?

Judy, I mean, we have -- Bob Dole, who's a great man and a great Republican senator, said, on Capitol Hill, we love to make tough speeches. We don't like to make tough choices.

And the fact is that the American people, who want all the benefits and want the free lunch, and don't want a single gray hair on the beautiful head of Social Security or Medicare touched, and basically don't want to pay for it, I mean, the old line is, we elect Republicans because we don't want to pay for it and we elect Democrats because we want everything that government is going to give us.

And it's sort of a terrible, terrible conundrum and dilemma. So, we looked in the mirror to see whose fault there is. But I would say there has been lack of leadership as far as sacrifice across the board.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The White House.

MARK SHIELDS: The White House, to the Congress, to our national leadership, to us in the press as well, I guess, to spell out.

Look, we want people to be covered. We want people to have the coverage. There are some of us who can afford coverage, and we're still getting those benefits.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You're talking about Medicare, Social Security, retirement benefits.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes. Yes, exactly.

And we're not going to have enough money to provide that coverage for everybody. And we do want to provide it for those who need it most.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I completely agree.

We blame politics, always say Washington is all dysfunctional. They're responding reasonably efficiently to what the American people want, which is to take the future's money and spend it on ourselves.

And so what we are looking at, the next generation, according to the IMF, is going to have one-third fewer benefits and one-third higher taxes if we act now.

If we wait five years, it will be 50 percent more taxes, 50 percent fewer benefits. It is just terrible for the future generations. So I do think it starts with the American people. Nonetheless, I do blame everyone else, too, including us, I guess.

But I would blame the Republicans for saying they want to control spending, talking of beating their chests about it, but they don't have a strategy, because they don't actually have the guts to propose spending cuts. And so they talk about the debt, the debt, the debt for years and years. They finally have a chance to propose some actual reforms.

They can't do it, because they think it would be unpopular. And then to criticize the president, I think he could have given a speech laying out exactly where we are as a country, rally public opinion behind the need to do something.

And, for Democrats, I would say, you want to pretend you're -- you want to protect valuable programs, Head Start, early childhood, well, Medicare is basically eating away at all that.

And if you don't tackle Medicare, you are going to have less for all the stuff you want to do. So who do you care more about, the rich elderly or the poor young? And you have got to make that call.

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