Does God speak directly to the NYT? If not, how can it justify telling readers in a news article:
"But some basic decisions need to be made, starting with whether to try again for a broader deal to tackle deficit spending long term with significant changes to entitlement programs and more tax revenue."
Those of us who just look at the data and official projections would never know such things. The deficit is currently at relatively modest levels compared to the size of the economy and is projected to remain so for the next decade. That would suggest that no basic decisions need to be made any time soon. Congress can go this year doing nothing about entitlement programs, it can go next year doing nothing about entitlement programs, and the year after and the year after.
In fact, current projections for government spending and deficits suggest that there is no urgency whatsoever about making changes to entitlement programs. So unless God has spoken, the NYT is misleading readers when it asserts that "some basic decisions need to be made."
This piece also apparently suffers from the same sort of inability to say "cuts" in Social Security and Medicare that often afflicts politicians advocating such cuts.
In the fifth paragraph it tells readers:
"In the Senate, a glimmer of hope has appeared for a bipartisan deal to end the automatic across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration and shift some of those savings to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security."
So in this case it expresses "hope" that the sequestration "cuts" will be replaced by "savings" in programs like Medicare and Social Security.
In the fourth to the last paragraph, the piece presents the possibility that "cuts" can be offset with "subtle changes" to Social Security and Medicare:
"The group [of Republican and Democratic senators] appears to be closing in on a modest agreement to replace deep and automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs at Congress’s annual funding discretion with more subtle changes to entitlement — or 'mandatory' — programs."
Then after quoting Senator Corker [a member of the group] referring to "mandatory savings," the piece comes back with its grand pronouncement about the need for decisions about "significant changes."
Of course outside of euphemism land, "cuts" will be needed to replace "cuts" if the goal is to leave the deficit the same. Generic changes will not suffice.
Thanks to Robert Salzberg for calling this one to my attention.