Someone reminded me of that old story about the pre-Russian revolution days. Peasants would lament how bad things were, and at the end would add, “If only the czar knew!” Because they somehow believed the czar had no idea of their conditions, or how they were treated. (Some historians joke that the revolution finally happened once the peasants realized the czar did know.) Oh, if only President Obama knew that Republicans were trying to trick him into cutting Social Security and Medicare!
Well, Obama really is going to try to cut Social Security and Medicare. No, it’s not a clever ploy — unless you count the part where he’s counting on you thinking that.
So here it is: The biggest trial balloon of them all in today’s Wall St. Journal. Get your dialing fingers ready. There’s a reason they let this story out on Good Friday, they’re counting on you not noticing or being too busy to do anything about it. The White House switchboard is 202-456-1414, the comments line is 202-456-1111 or you can email here.
WASHINGTON—The White House is strongly considering including limits on entitlement benefits in its fiscal 2014 budget—a proposal it first offered Republicans in December. The move would be aimed in part at keeping alive bipartisan talks on a major budget deal.
Such a proposal could include steps that make many Democrats queasy, such as reductions in future Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security payments, but also items resisted by Republicans, such as higher taxes through limits on tax breaks, people close to the White House said.
These measures would come as President Barack Obama continues his courtship of the Senate GOP in an effort to thaw tax-and-spending talks. The White House’s delayed annual budget is scheduled to be released April 10, the same day Mr. Obama plans to dine with a group of Senate Republicans to discuss the budget and other issues.
President Obama’s inclusion of the proposal would be aimed at breathing new life into bipartisan talks on reaching a deficit-reduction deal.
Oh yes, the Bipartisan Wet Dream of a Grand Bargain.
Including entitlement curbs would be notable, as Republicans often have criticized the White House for offering such steps in private negotiations but never fully embracing them as part of an official budget plan.
People close to the White House believe a proposal to slow the growth rate of such benefits would use a variant of the Consumer Price Index to measure inflation. The new inflation indicator would cut overall spending by $130 billion, according to White House projections, and raise $100 billion in tax revenue by slowing the growth of tax brackets. The White House earlier called for an additional $800 billion or so in cuts on top of those resulting from the inflation adjustments.
“We and all of the groups engaged on this are starting to feel it may well be in the budget,” said Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president at AARP, an advocacy group for seniors that opposes such changes.