PERHAPS MCCASKILL NEEDS A REFRESHER COURSE…. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) attended a “bipartisan breakfast” this morning. That, in and of itself, doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But Greg Sargent, pointing to the senator’s Twitter feed, explained that McCaskill came away from the gathering “persuaded that Social Security — which she described as ‘entitlement reform’ — needed to be fixed ASAP.”

McCaskill began by saying “entitlement reform” is “very hard, but absolutely essential.” When pressed (by Atrios) on what that means, the senator argued:

Entitlemnt reform is making sure Medicare & Soc Sec don’t devour every penny of our budget leaving nothing for education or other services.

Now, I’ll concede that Twitter isn’t necessarily the ideal medium for a senator to describe a policy position. That said, it doesn’t take 140 characters to say, “Social Security does not need to be cut.” There, that’s only 39 characters.

McCaskill wasn’t in Congress in 2005, so if we’re being charitable, it’s probably worth remembering that the senator wasn’t involved in the last debate over Social Security. She probably missed the reports showing that Social Security is largely fine, and didn’t see the work many did debunking conservative claims. McCaskill may simply be unaware of the fact that 2005 was a gut-check moment for the party, when Democrats realized that if the party stood for anything, it stood in support of Social Security.

With that in mind, let’s call this a “teachable moment” for McCaskill. She’s been led to believe that changing (read: cutting) Social Security is “very hard, but absolutely essential.” Her allies, colleagues, and constituents should take this opportunity to help her understand why this simply isn’t true.

And as for Medicare, the single best way to help get these costs under control is to work with the White House on a health care reform initiative. If McCaskill is worried about Medicare “devouring every penny of our budget,” I assume she’ll help to the heavy lifting on Obama’s efforts to reform the system?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.