ObamaAAEs Budget Worries Social Security Defenders; Fear 'chainAAE to Consumer Price Index Would Reduce Benefits

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Byline: Seth McLaughlin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

As President Obama prepares to submit his 2014 budget next week, his left flank is warning him to keep his hands off entitlement programs. Mr. Obama is under pressure to try to reduce the deficit and has already signaled he will call for tax increases Au but liberal groups say theyAAEre afraid heAAEll also embrace changes to Social Security or Medicare that, the advocates say, will mean benefits wonAAEt grow as generously as theyAAEd like to see.

Speaking on behalf of MoveOn.org, Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, said Thursday that the Obama administration should not change the way that the annual cost-of-living adjustments are calculated for Social Security beneficiaries, warning that a move from the standard to chained consumer price index would reduce future payments to seniors and future retirees Au making it harder for them to keep up with rising costs of health care.

Social Security is not driving the deficit, therefore it should not be part of reforms aimed at cutting the deficit, Mr. Reich said. The chained CPI, deceptively portrayed as a reasonable cost of living adjustment, is a cut to Social Security that would hurt seniors.

Mr. Obama is poised to roll out his spending plan for the next fiscal year on Wednesday Au sounding the starting gun in another round of budget negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders.

House Republicans laid down their marker last month, passing a plan written by 2012 vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan that will balance the budget in a decade.

Senate Democrats also passed a budget that relies on lower spending and higher taxes. That budget would see the government still running annual deficits in excess of $500 billion in 10 years.

Neither of the plans lay out specific proposals for improving the long-term solvency of Social Security, which the programAAEs trustees say will only be able to pay out about 75 percent of benefits in 2033.

For his part, Mr. Obama has not indicated whether the chained CPI will be part of his spending plan, but MoveOn. …