Grover Norquist has made clear that he is opposed to Chained CPI and that a vote for Chained CPI would be a violation of the anti-tax pledge signed by most Republicans. The reason is simple. Chained CPI raises almost as much in taxes as it cuts in Social Security benefits. Republicans have signed a pledge which prohibits them from voting for tax increases under any circumstances, and this most certainly would violate that pledge.
It would appear that including chained CPI in his budget, the President has not only allowed himself to take on the mantle of "bipartisanship" but he has done so in a manner that really presents a poison pill to the Republicans. It's not 11th dimensional chess but rather politics 101.
Norquist's organization, the so-called Americans For Tax Reform, said that any member of Congress voting for Chained CPI would be violating the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
"Chained CPI as a stand-alone measure (that is, not paired with tax relief of equal or greater size) is a tax increase and a Taxpayer Protection Pledge violation," the group said in a blog post.And so right he is. According to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) projections, implementation of chained CPI will raise $123 billion in revenue over 10 years, which is almost as much as the $127 billion in the Social Security cuts that would result. It should be noted that there are other cuts that would result from chained CPI. In fact, the total amount of spending that would be reduced from Chained CPI would actually be almost twice that amount, $216 billion, since it will impact Federal civilian and military retirement benefits as well as a host of other programs that include COLA adjustments. Here is a chart showing the complete projections.
Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, leader of the organization, criticized the policy via Twitter on Wednesday. "Chained CPI is a very large tax hike over time," Norquist wrote. "Hence Democrat interest in same."
Obviously the President knows this. But by offering Chained CPI as a means to cut so-called entitlement spending, he is presenting the Republicans with a poison pill. To get this benefit cut, they must increase taxes. And once they have broken their anti-tax pledge by agreeing to the chained CPI tax increase, they will have a difficult time arguing that they are opposed to the other $580 billion in tax increases on high earners contained in the President's budget.
The Presidents budget is somewhere between the budgets passed by the Senate and the House. The Washington Post has an excellent article which displays how all three budgets, together with the budgets of the Progressive Caucus and Republican Study Committee, compare in terms of their effects on broad budget categories such as defense, non-defense discretionary, and other spending as well as revenues.
The House and Senate are supposed to be in conference reconciling their two budgets. It is noteworthy that while budgets are merely blueprints for spending contained in appropriations acts, the Senate budget does include provisions for reconciliation instructions. If conference negotiations were to actually result in a budget approved by both the House and the Senate, and if that budget included those reconciliation instructions, implementing legislation would be fast tracked through the House and Senate and could not be filibustered.
In all likelihood nothing will come of these budget discussions. Instead, bits and pieces of these proposals may be enacted as part of an agreement to modify the sequester or to avert another debt ceiling crisis.
It is interesting to note one other thing. The budget the president submitted today would involve the expenditure of $3.77 trillion in FY 2014. In some arenas, most of the discussion has focused on one provision that would involve program cuts of $12 billion in that year.