President Obama will present a budget next week
that includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare, putting in writing his willingness to sacrifice these programs for a grand bargain. He's certainly offered them up frequently, but now it's official and included in his formal budget request.
Obama will break with the tradition of providing a sweeping vision of his ideal spending priorities, untethered from political realities. Instead, the document will incorporate the compromise offer Obama made to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) last December in the discussions over the “fiscal cliff” – which included $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction through spending cuts and tax increases. [...]
While Republicans are certain to be skeptical of Obama’s call for more taxes, the president also is likely to face immediate heat over his budget proposal from some Democrats and liberal supporters. Obama proposes, for instance, to change the cost-of-living calculation for Social Security in a way that will reduce benefits for most beneficiaries, a key Republican request that he had earlier embraced only as part of a compromise. Many Democrats say they are opposed to any Social Security cuts and are likely to be furious that such cuts are now being proposed as official administration policy.
“While this is not the president’s ideal deficit reduction plan, and there are particular proposals in this plan like the [cost-of-living] change that were key Republican requests an d not the president’s preferred approach,” the senior administration official said, “this is a compromise proposal built on common ground, and the president felt it was important to make it clear that the offer still stands.”
In addition to the chained CPI, the budget will include about $400 billion in Medicare cuts and additional means testing
for Medicare benefits.
Now that Obama has fully embraced the cuts, no amount of White House spin is going to be able to permanently pin the chained CPI on Republicans, as the administration official is trying to do. Republicans have been demanding for months that Obama specifically spell out the cuts to social insurance programs he would accept; now he's done so, they will make sure he owns them.
The White House seems to believe that this will show the American public that he is Very Serious about both deficit reduction and working with Republicans, that "he is willing to compromise and do tough things to reduce the deficit,” in the words of a senior administration official. Because of course a willingness to compromise is all that it takes to make the Republicans come around. That and his charm offensive.
Republicans aren't going to come around, and now have a weapon. And what the American people will probably remember is that in 2008 candidate Obama promised that as president, he would not cut Social Security, a promise reiterated by Vice President Biden in 2012. In fact, we're probably not going to be allowed to forget that, once the Republicans get their ads running in congressional districts around the country saying that Barack Obama broke his promise and wants to cut your Social Security.
There's more discussion in this diary from aguidito.