When news began to emerge from of the White House Friday that President Obama’s budget next week will propose cuts to Medicare and Social Security, the wave of reaction was not complimentary.
“We cannot force seniors to pay even more to fill the hole left by unnecessary and irresponsible cuts to Social Security,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement Friday afternoon.
“Cutting benefits now, when people are already struggling to make ends meet, will mean unnecessary hardship for millions of people,” Reps. Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, wrote in a joint statement. “It is unpopular, unwise and unworkable.”
Next Wednesday, the president is expected to release a plan that proposes cuts to Medicare by increasing premiums for wealthier retirees and Social Security by gradually reducing annual cost-of- living increases.
In the past, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she’s “agnostic” to a potential chained CPI proposal as long as it protects the most vulnerable.
But today, the president’s defenders were silent as the president was dinged by enraged progressives for a perceived flip-flop on his campaign promise not to cut entitlements.
“President Obama, when it comes to cutting Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare benefits, over 200,000 progressive members of your own party don’t ‘have your back,’” Jim Dean, chairman of Democracy for America, said Friday. “We are prepared to fight you every step of the way.”
Across the aisle, Republicans dislike the president’s budget proposal for an entirely different reason: the president’s call for additional tax increases on the country’s wealthiest earners just months after tax rates were tackled during the fiscal cliff negotiations.
It’s the political paradox the president faces on an annual basis. He needs to lay out a credible vision for bipartisan deficit reduction, but finding an amenable path there without enraging his supporters has proven to be elusive.
One senior Republican on Capitol Hill said the president’s budget proposal “does little or nothing to bring both parties closer to a fiscal agreement” because, in the eyes of Republicans, it’s essentially the same offer that was rejected by House Speaker John Boehner during negotiations with the president last December.
Leaked details about the president’s latest desire for $600 billion in new tax revenue prompted a scathing paper response from Boehner, R-Ohio, who is agitated that President Obama wants additional revenue in exchange for what Republicans describe as “modest” entitlement savings.
“When the president visited the Capitol last month, House Republicans stated a desire to find common ground and urged him not to make savings we agree upon conditional on another round of tax increases,” Boehner wrote in a statement. “If reports are accurate, the president has not heeded that call. If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there’s no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes. That’s no way to lead and move the country forward.”
The president’s previous budgets have fallen flat in Congress. Given the initial reaction, this version is likely to suffer a quick death, as well, if it is ever brought to the floor for a vote.