Obama reverses Social Security cut, sprints to new spending

Fearful of helping Republicans’ mid-term election efforts, President Obama backtracked Thursday on plans to cut Social Security benefits, calling for $56 billion in new spending instead.

“This reaffirms what has become all too apparent: the president has no interest in doing anything, even modest, to address our looming debt crisis,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement, according to the Washington Examiner.

The 2015 budget request, due March 4, will not reflect a revised method of calculating Social Security increases – known as “chained CPI – because the GOP was unwilling to discuss closing tax loopholes, a White House spokesman said. Instead, the proposal will call for tens of billions in extra money for job training programs, energy efficiency promotions, expanded education programs for preschoolers and defense priorities.

Those expenses would be offset by an unspecified mix of cuts and reforms, according to the budget request, which gave short shrift to a proposed “grand bargain” – serious tax reform coupled with an overhaul of entitlements.

Congressional reaction was predictable. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called it a “powerful statement of Democratic principles,” and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., applauded the president for eliminating the “chained CPI.”

Republicans, on the other hand, accused Obama of playing to his base and being unwilling to tackle out-of-control federal spending while hiding behind the implication that the increases would never pass a GOP-controlled House.

Richard Berkow

Former political news reporter Richard Berkow lost his idealism in the Kennedy years, and his innocence in Vietnam, Lebanon, and the Soviet Union. He hasn’t mellowed since, and can be harassed at [email protected]

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