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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Obama Vows To Protect Social Security & Medicare: 2008 Campaign Promises!

Obama to shield Social Security in deficit-reduction

President Barack Obama will shield Social Security from cuts in his new deficit-reduction plan, the White House said Thursday, pulling back on a key concession from his failed “grand bargain” negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner.

“The president’s recommendation for deficit reduction will not include any changes to Social Security because, as the president has consistently said, he does not believe that Social Security is a driver of our near and medium term deficits,” White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said in a statement. “He believes that both parties need to work together on a parallel track to strengthen Social Security for future generations rather than taking a piecemeal approach as part of a deficit reduction plan.”

Obama’s decision means changes to the inflation calculator for Social Security will not be in the package, according to the White House.

It also will allow him to avoid a clash with his Democratic base over the popular retirement program at a time when he needs their support more than ever, both to push for his $447 billion jobs program and to buck up his lagging poll numbers.

Medicare could be a different story, though, as the White House revisits some unpopular ideas from the talks with Boehner (R-Ohio).

Obama angered Democrats when he agreed to slice more than $250 billion from Medicare, in part by gradually raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67 and hiking premiums for wealthier recipients. Those ideas remain under discussion, according to officials familiar with the White House deliberations, but progressives have been pressing the White House to avoid addressing Medicare all together.

The president’s political challenge is acute. He has pledged repeatedly to offer a “very specific” plan Monday, but that means touching popular entitlement programs, infuriating his Democratic base and diverting attention once again from his jobs push.

Senior administration officials said this week that the deficit plan would not resemble a legislative compromise. Instead, it would follow the framework Obama released in April, a proposal that detailed only in broad strokes how he would cut $4 trillion over 12 years. It did not include specific recommendations on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Only a few weeks ago, the White House had signaled that Obama could endorse some controversial deficit-cutting measures that he had previously backed only behind closed doors, the officials said.

As part of those talks, Obama and Boehner decided that Congress would make changes to Social Security that boosted its solvency. They also agreed to modify the inflation calculator — a move that Democratic critics cast as a benefits cut.

If he sidesteps the most divisive issues, Obama would face a fresh wave of criticism from Republicans, who have needled him for months to go on the record with his plan — a bid to draw him into the entitlement debate, which has stung the GOP after it passed a budget phasing out traditional Medicare.

Presenting his $447 billion jobs bill to a joint session of Congress last Thursday, Obama said his deficit reduction plan would be “ambitious.”

“It’s a balanced plan that would reduce the deficit by making additional spending cuts, by making modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and by reforming our tax code in a way that asks the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share,” Obama said.

The president is also likely to renew his call to raise new revenues by increasing taxes on high-end earners and overhauling the tax code. Before the “grand bargain” talks fell apart, Boehner and Obama agreed to raise $800 billion in new revenues over the next decade.

The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post first reported details of the emerging deficit plan.

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Sources: Americas Future, Politico, Youtube, Google Maps

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