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Entitlement cuts raise liberal hackles


This news story was published on March 13, 2013.
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U.S. Congress

U.S. Congress

WASHINGTON, March 13 (UPI) — Liberal U.S. senators challenged President Obama over his readiness to cut entitlement benefits, as the president prepared to meet with House Republicans.

“I think he is more inclined to cut benefits, which I strongly disagree with,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., said after leaving a 90-minute, closed-door Senate Democratic Caucus meeting with Obama on Capitol Hill that focused a lot on Social Security and Medicare benefits.

The meeting also dealt with immigration policy, drones and cybersecurity, Senate attendees said.

Sanders and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, told Obama they opposed his willingness to consider adopting “chained CPI” — a less generous formula for adjusting benefits under Social Security and other programs for inflation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ chained CPI, or a chained consumer price index, is not used by Washington but has increasingly been discussed as a reform because many economists say it better measures inflation than the currently used CPI index.

It tweaks the inflation formula slightly but results in big savings over the long run, perhaps more than $100 billion over a decade, The Washington Post reported.

It also reduces the federal deficit through a combination of spending cuts and increased revenues.

Obama has said he is open to chained CPI as part of a “grand bargain” that would include spending cuts as well as new revenue.

And he didn’t back down from that position during Tuesday’s meeting, those in attendance said — a position that raised the hackles of the caucus’ liberal wing, especially Harkin and Sanders.

“My point and Bernie Sanders’ point was when you’re talking about entitlements — Social Security and Medicare — there’s more than one way to solve that problem,” Harkin told reporters.

He said Obama’s response was that “things were open for negotiation” but that he wanted to reach a grand bargain.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Obama “thinks it’s very important that we solve these problems together and he said that working together with Republicans in terms of getting a grand bargain or a major dent in this issue [of cutting the deficit] is critically important.

“But compromise is essential and he hasn’t seen enough of it from them, but he’s also going to continue trying,” Levin said.

Obama was to meet with the House Republican Conference at 1:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday and with House Democrats and Senate Republicans in separate meetings Thursday.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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8 Responses to Entitlement cuts raise liberal hackles

  1. Avatar

    another brick in the mall Reply Report comment

    March 14, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Banks get bailed out, you do not. This is country for others, not you.

  2. Avatar

    4ever49 Reply Report comment

    March 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Well who knew? Harkin is opposed to “cutting” entitlements. He doesn’t say exactly which ones he is referring to of course, but that he is opposed. Forever the political opportunist regardless of the long term financial damage he leaves in his wake.
    I wonder if he would be in favor of reforming them to trend them into a more actuarially sound setup.
    rukidding makes a very good point in that other spending could/should be reduced first before any reductions in benefits put in place by gainfully employed voters are whacked. I would also cut out some of the additions to SS that have been added over the years that detract from its benefits to contributors. Many are more hidden welfare and need to be out in the open.
    To the things he listed I would add Obamacare – many of its goals can be achieved without such a monstrously expensive program.

    • Avatar

      LVS Reply Report comment

      March 13, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      @4Ever-the problem is the things that should get cut never do and the people that paid into the system all their lives will take it in the shorts. Do you think Obama is going to take away from his welfare crowd and lose those votes? It will never happen. I am waiting for one of them to suggest we cut military benefits and pensions. It will be coming. Then watch out.

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        LVS Reply Report comment

        March 14, 2013 at 9:09 am

        Do not forget the illegals that are getting disability and dependent support. If someone goes on disability they can get $800.00 p/mo., p/dependent child in addition to the disability. That stays in force until the child is 18 years old.

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      teetotaler2 Reply Report comment

      March 13, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      could you elaborate on the “hidden welfare” in the SS benefits? some on SS recieve less than $1000/ mo. and you think they shouldn’t get a little xtra help? it’s likely they worked for more than 40 yrs. and paid into the system. Some fed. tax they never got back.

      • Avatar

        4ever49 Reply Report comment

        March 13, 2013 at 8:15 pm

        One that comes to mind are premature infants – one couple I know of collected for approx 2 years ($800-$900/mo I think), had full insurance coverage thru their employers (both have professional positions) but baby was still eligible. Apparently no means testing was required.

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        rukidding Reply Report comment

        March 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm

        Disability and survivors insurance for kids are a couple of things that have been added to social security that were not included in the oringinal bill. These in my opinion are good things but were and are not funded in the social security plan. So I guess are welfare programs. If we want these to continue we must pay for them out of payroll deductions.

  3. Avatar

    rukidding Reply Report comment

    March 13, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Social security and medicare are not entitlements all working americans pay into this system and they are earned. I have no problems cutting give-away programs like tax breaks for corporations, aide to over seas countries, aide to farmers, earned income credit, and other tax credits these are not earned and have little or no merit.