Even though President Barack Obama’s formal budget proposal Tuesday omitted cuts to Social Security, the White House strongly suggested that a controversial policy to cut the program “remains on the table” if Republicans are willing to compromise.
“In last year’s Budget, the President included a compromise proposal intended as a show of good faith to spark additional negotiations with Congressional Republicans about the nation’s long-term deficits and debt and to encourage all parties to come together to remove the economically-damaging sequestration cuts,” the White House said in a fact sheet that accompanied its budget release. “Although that compromise proposal remains on the table, given Congressional Republicans’ unwillingness to negotiate a balanced long-term deficit reduction deal, the President’s 2015 Budget returns to a more traditional Budget presentation that is focused on achieving the President’s vision for the best path to create growth and opportunity for all Americans, and the investments needed to meet that vision.”
The “compromise proposal” is a thinly veiled reference to a policy known as Chained CPI, which slows the rate of inflation for Social Security benefits. The White House included the proposal in its budget released in 2013 as an olive branch to Republicans. Obama made clear he wouldn’t support it without new tax revenues in the mix, which the GOP refused to accept. Liberal advocates had also mobilized against the proposal. But senior administration officials made clear that while Chained CPI is not a policy that the president ideally wants, he’s still willing to support it if Republicans reciprocate with tax revenues.
Obama’s decision to drop Chained CPI from his budget was criticized by Republicans. “This reaffirms what has become all too apparent: the president has no interest in doing anything, even modest, to address our looming debt crisis,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). “The one and only idea the president has to offer is even more job-destroying tax hikes, and that non-starter won’t do anything to save the entitlement programs that are critical to so many Americans. With three years left in office, it seems the president is already throwing in the towel.”