- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: ‘Playing defense on the one-yard line’
- Activists vow to occupy fast-food restaurants to get higher pay
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Senate Dems wary of immigration politics
- Summer camp for 1 percenters: Sushi, limos and shopping at FAO Schwarz
- Colorado gun crackdown law found to be built on faulty data
- Hank Aaron steps to fundraising plate for Democrat Michelle Nunn
- ISIL terrorists blow up burial site of Jonah, vow more of same
- Impeach Obama, say 35 percent in new poll
- Taliban yank 14 Shiites off bus, bind and shoot them on Afghan road
- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
GOP backs off Social Security income change
Question of the Day
Republicans on Sunday conceded on their demand that any "fiscal cliff" deal trim Social Security cost-of-living increases, signaling the end — for now — of their push to reform entitlements in exchange for higher tax rates.
Proponents said they might try to revisit the issue next year, but senators from both parties said they were playing a losing hand when they appeared to be demanding cuts to the federal government's public pensions program in exchange for protecting tax rates for families making more than $250,000.
"I'm not a fan of affecting those who are currently on Social Security — especially the more elderly," said Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republican. "That'll probably be part of a larger debate in conjunction with the debt ceiling next year, and other issues regarding entitlement reform."
Social Security emerged as a last-minute stumbling block Sunday when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, went to the chamber floor and said he had hit an impasse with Republicans over the issue. He said his party would consider cost-of-living changes at some point in the future, but ruled it out as part of the smaller deal he and Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, were negotiating.
"We're not going to have any Social Security cuts," he said flatly.
Deleting Social Security from the equation means Republicans now are fighting a strictly defensive battle and the fiscal cliff debate centers around how much taxes are going to go up, and on what spending will be added — such as another extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.
Some Republicans said the demand was just a bargaining chip they were expecting to drop, while others questioned whether it was even on the table.
"That's the first I've heard of it on the floor," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, adding that he wanted to save that fight for another day.
For Democrats, cutting into entitlement programs is anathema — similar to the way Republicans see tax increases.
But in the wake of Mr. Obama's re-election and Democrats' gains in Congress, Republicans have been forced to cave on their tax principles, while Democrats have been able to hold firm in defending entitlements.
At issue is the measure of inflation used to calculate inflation. Most federal programs are tied to the Consumer Price Index, but Republicans want to use what is called Chained CPI, which would lead to lower cost-of-living adjustments.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that would mean a quarter of a percentage point slower growth per year, which could add up over the decades.
Mr. Obama signaled early in fiscal cliff negotiations that he could accept using Chained CPI as long as protections were in place for those with the lowest incomes.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California disputed the views of other Democrats who called it a benefit cut.
"No. I consider it a strengthening of Social Security," she told reporters in mid-December.
Democrats said they would accept it only as part of a broad deal and that the package being considered this weekend didn't qualify.
Liberal interest groups, who had rallied their supporters to call congressional offices and oppose Chained CPI, cheered their win.
"Today's victory shows that activism works," said the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which vowed to field primary challengers to run against any Democrat voting for the proposed policy.
• Sean Lengell and David Sherfinski contributed to this report.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
- Lois Lerner emails reveal gaping open-records loophole
- Two-thirds of illegal immigrant children approved for asylum: report
- Top Justice official denies conspiring with IRS on tea party targeting
- Boehner: No bill on border surge
- Taking Obama to court a long shot but lawsuit not folly, Congress is told
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- PRUDEN: The Democratic-wannabe mice under Hillary Clinton's feet
- Obama takes aim at 'corporate deserters'
- Crime-ridden U.S. cities differ on ways to fight gun violence
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq