Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-Tennessee Williams) went on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday to say he was “encouraged” by recent trial balloons from the White House over President Obama’s budget blueprint. The President’s budget plan is more than two months past the statutory deadline, but Graham said he was “optimistic” Obama’s proposal would lay the groundwork for a “grand bargain” on the budget.
Obama’s plan, which Graham described as the President “showing a little bit of leg,” would change the way government calculates inflation adjustments annually, both in entitlement programs and the tax code. The adoption of what is called “chained CPI” would lower Social Security payments by around $130 billion over the next 10 years. The savings are derived from lower cost-of-living increases in benefit payments.
Under Obama’s proposal, however, the change would also apply to the indexing of tax brackets. That change would increase tax revenues by around $100 billion over the next decade. At the end of the day, Obama’s proposal, which Graham sees as an ante to a “grand bargain” is essentially a wash, in terms of the federal budget.
In Graham’s world, an essentially budget neutral provision is a “step forward” in budget talks. Graham’s position may keep open invitations to Sunday talk shows, but it doesn’t put America any closer to solving its spending problem.
Graham, who is up for reelection next year, should remember that his job is not to make nice with Sunday show producers or the Obama White House. His job is to fight, by any means necessary, to put the nation’s fiscal house in order. A sham proposal from Obama is just that — a sham. It should make one neither “encouraged” nor “optimistic.”