Policy: Economy

Obama's budget won't shrink cost-of-living increase

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,Entitlements,Nancy Pelosi,PennAve,Economy,Budgets and Deficits

President Obama's upcoming budget will not include a previous offer to lower cost-of-living increases for Social Security and other government benefits, the White House said Thursday.

“The compromise embedded in last year’s budget included policies like chained CPI — the number one policy change that Republicans had asked for in previous fiscal negotiations,” a White House official said, explaining the decision. “However, over the course of last year, Republicans consistently showed a lack of willingness to negotiate on a deficit reduction deal, refusing to identify even one unfair tax loophole they would be willing to close, despite the president’s willingness to put tough things on the table. “

The White House official said that Obama's previous offer for a so-called grand bargain to Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, remained on the table if Republicans negotiate around a “balanced plan to deal with our long-term fiscal challenges that includes closing loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and corporations. “

The White House will officially release the president's budget on March 4.

Obama will also propose $56 billion in new spending, an increase from the budget agreement reached recently by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.

The budget document is more about political symbolism than new policies, as the president's proposals are likely dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House.

Democrats welcomed the decision by the White House to scrap a proposed reduction in Social Security benefits unpopular with progressives.

“Democrats applaud the president for eliminating chained CPI from his budget," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

However, Republicans are accusing the president of merely playing to his base ahead of November's elections.

"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 Boehner spokesman. “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,” Buck added.

This story was published at 1:36 p.m. and has been updated.

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