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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Obama’s boneheaded chained CPI offer has entirely predictable result

Washington Post: President Obama’s offer to trim Social Security benefits has perplexed and angered Democrats, but GOP leaders are embracing the proposal and rushing to jump-start a debate that will delve even more deeply into the touchy topic of federal spending on the elderly.

This week, two House subcommittees plan to hold hearings on “reforms to protect and preserve” programs for retirees, starting with Obama’s proposal to apply a less generous measure of inflation to annual increases in Social Security benefits.

Also on the table are higher Medicare premiums and reduced benefits for better-off seniors, and a higher Medicare eligibility age.

At the same time, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said he has moved to tamp down criticism of Obama’s proposal, which quickly bubbled up from GOP lawmakers in swing districts, such as Rep. Chris Collins (N.Y.), who accused the president of cutting spending “on the backs of our seniors.” And Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), the chairman of the House Republican campaign arm, called Obama’s plan “a shocking attack on seniors.”
What’s happening here is that Republicans are jumping on the entitlement slashing bandwagon, but leaving the President’s call for tax increases on the wealthy behind.

And why shouldn’t they? Obama has painted himself into a corner here. Republicans can look at the offer and say, “Hey look, we’re both for screwing over seniors with chained CPI. We just disagree on taxes. Let’s toss the old folks overboard first and go from there.” And what can Obama say — that chained CPI is only a good idea if we tax rich people too? How’s that work? The two issues aren’t really very well connected.

The president has needlessly conceded a Republican point and there’s no reason to believe he’ll get anything in return. The White House desperately needs to fire some advisers, because they either steered the President wrong or failed to predict this entirely predictable outcome. Either way, they suck.

This is amateur hour.

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