Spokesmen for the Obama administration and congressional Republicans indicated Sunday they were preparing to shift the focus of the ongoing Washington budget and debt discussions to the major entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare.
Both the Democrats and the Republicans are using the partial shutdown of federal government operations and the looming October 17 deadline for raising the federal debt ceiling, to create a crisis atmosphere to justify cuts that are overwhelmingly opposed by the American people.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives precipitated the federal shutdown by insisting that any resolution to continue funding the federal government after the beginning of the fiscal year October 1 had to be linked to defunding Obama's healthcare legislation, the Affordable Care Act.
House Speaker John Boehner signaled a turn away from that stand in the course of an interview Sunday on the ABC News program "This Week," when he told interviewer George Stephanopoulos that the federal shutdown and debt ceiling issues were now linked, and that he would insist on cuts in entitlement programs as the price of authorizing any new federal borrowing.
He made clear that, despite the right-wing populist demagogy of the Tea Party, the real enemy of the Republicans is not Obama, but American working people as a whole, and particularly the tens of millions of retired workers who rely on Social Security for their income and Medicare for their health care.