Liberals are taking a big victory lap after the White House announced Thursday that it wouldn’t propose trimming future Social Security benefits as part of the 2015 budget. President Obama had repeatedly endorsed such a measure as part of a “grand bargain” to tame the nation’s growing debt, and he incorporated it into last year’s budget plan.
After word came out, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee blasted a release: "This is a huge progressive victory -- and greatly increases Democratic chances of taking back the House and keeping the Senate.”
Neil Sroka, the communications director for Democracy for America, told Business Insider for an article titled “How Liberals Won on Social Security": “We have changed the conversation in Washington.”
And economist Paul Krugman was up Friday morning calling the decision “a big deal.”
Sorry, but liberals had nothing to do with the president’s decision. It’s Republicans who killed the Social Security proposal.
In 2011, in 2012 and in 2013, Obama was willing to adopt a chained consumer price index, which would result in lower payouts of Social Security benefits over time. (He would have protected poor seniors.)
Republicans had long demanded it, citing the sustainability of the nation's retirement entitlements. Obama was willing to do it as part of a “grand bargain.” His condition was to scale back tax breaks that benefit the wealthy. He made the case to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in 2011 and 2012 and then -- over and over -- to Senate Republicans in 2013.
Democrats hated the idea. Liberals were furious. But the president kept it on the table. What many liberals didn’t understand was that Obama kept it on the table not just as a token to Republicans -- many of his advisers believed that chained CPI, with protections for poor seniors, was a good policy that used a more accurate measure of inflation.
Nonetheless, Republicans didn’t bite. They decided that raising taxes on the wealthy by closing tax expenditures was too much to ask.
The GOP refusal to agree to a deal is the reason why Obama’s Social Security proposal isn’t law. In fact, though he’s not including it in his budget, Obama says the offer is still on the table.