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The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are reporting that President Obama is "strongly considering" including cuts to social insurance program benefits in his budget. The budget is slated to be released on April 10, the same day Obama is having yet another charm offensive dinner with Senate Republicans. Because this strategy has been working so well for him.
Such a proposal could include steps that make many Democrats queasy, such as reductions in future Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security payments, but also items resisted by Republicans, such as higher taxes through limits on tax breaks, people close to the White House said. [...]
Including entitlement curbs would be notable, as Republicans often have criticized the White House for offering such steps in private negotiations but never fully embracing them as part of an official budget plan.
Well, since Republicans are criticizing him for not fully and officially embracing his desire to cut benefits to the poor and elderly, by all means he has to make the offer. Included in that, reportedly, is the chained CPI for Social Security and an idea from Eric Cantor for restructuring Medicare that would combine Medicare’s coverage for hospitals and doctor services, creating a single deductible that could increase out-of-pocket costs.
But here's just one rub in the plan:
But several liberal allies, some of whom advise White House officials, said Republicans could seize on the White House-endorsed spending cuts and try to implement them into law without any of the tax increases. That would put the White House in the uncomfortable position of opposing spending cuts it formally endorsed in its own budget.
That should be considered a certainty, rather than a possibility. That goes along with the certainty that Republicans are going to use an official White House proposal to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits in 2014 to run against Democrats. Republicans aren't engaging in any of the budget negotiations in good faith. They didn't do so in Obama's first term, and they have no intention to do so now, regardless of the 2012 election.
The Senate has rejected a chained CPI for Social Security, but that vote was non-binding. All those Democratic senators who voted against it need to take their opposition to the White House and tell President Obama that he will not have their votes.