Obama has made passing reference to some of these spending-cut proposals in news conferences, but he has never made them the centerpiece of a high-profile speech. By contrast, he repeatedly—and very publicly—has stressed his interest in raising taxes on the wealthy. That’s why his ideas on entitlements remain a mystery to many Republicans—but they all know he wants to raise revenues.

The president’s outreach to Republican rank-and-file in the past week is a sign of seriousness, in that he is beginning to explain his ideas directly to the opposition.

However, the president has not directly taken on members of his own party; he also has not made the case for overhauling entitlement programs to the American people.

The idea that Obama could resolve the impasse if only he tried harder is a common fallacy of centrist commentary in Washington, but it’s especially perverse when offered as a factcheck. The problem, once again, is a lack of discipline in selecting targets for factchecks and a tendency to make subjective pronouncements about language and process. As Marx notes, claims like these are “ultimately political, not journalistic, in nature. By insisting otherwise, and acting as if journalistic methods can resolve the argument, the factcheckers weaken the morally freighted language that’s designed to give their work power.”

Kessler is a distinguished reporter and journalist, so why not give him a separate column for punditry and preserve The Fact Checker column for, well, facts?

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Brendan Nyhan is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College. He blogs at brendan-nyhan.com and tweets @BrendanNyhan.