President Obama’s FY 2105 budget will drop the one concession he had made to Republicans on entitlement reform. Under pressure from Congressional Democrats, Obama’s budget will not contain a proposal called “chained CPI” which changes the calculation of cost-of-living increases for Social Security benefits. While the savings from the change would have been minor, it was seen as an olive branch to Republicans towards a “grand bargain” on the budget. It seems the budget will have to be resolved at the ballot box.
“This reaffirms what has become all too apparent: the president has no interest in doing anything, even modest, to address our looming debt crisis,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said. “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.”
Progressives had made the elimination of the “chained CPI” proposal a major priority. More than 100 House Democrats and over a dozen Senate Democrats sent letters to the White House, urging its removal from the budget. Rather than chart his own course on the budget, Obama is bowing to their demands.
Obama’s budget goes further, however, and actually increases spending by at least $56 billion, primarily for new “jobs programs” and universal pre-school.
“This is a huge progressive victory — and greatly increases Democratic chances of taking back the House and keeping the Senate,” said Stephanie Taylor, a founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “Now, the White House should join Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and others in pushing to expand Social Security benefits to keep up with the rising cost of living.”
Obama’s move assures that the budget will be at the center of the November elections. By tacking further to the left, Obama and the Democrats will give the voters in the midterm a clear choice.