The Obama administration said Sunday that it is searching for rank-and-file Republicans willing to work with the president on a budget deal who “don’t think compromise is a dirty word.”
The outreach was made just days before President Obama plans to formally unveil his proposed 2014 federal budget, but details of the blueprint that leaked early have Republican leaders and Mr. Obama’s liberal base fuming.
“What we’re looking for is what the president called a caucus of common sense — folks who are willing to compromise and who understand that in a divided government, both sides aren’t going to get everything they want,” White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said on “Fox News Sunday.”
President Obama will have a chance to find more allies in the GOP on Wednesday, when he is scheduled to have dinner with Republican senators the same day his proposed budget is officially released.
“The White House has been in contact with a lot of those folks, a lot of the Senate Republicans that we had dinner with, and so there’s an opening there,” Mr. Pfeiffer said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Mr. Pfeiffer warned that the White House will have little patience for Republicans who maintain a single-minded philosophy.
“If the Republicans, particularly in the House, take a ‘my way or the highway’ approach, then we’re not going to get a deal,” he said. “Simple as that.”
Looking for allies
Senior White House officials said Friday that the fiscal 2014 budget cuts the deficit by $1.8 trillion over 10 years and changes the way annual Social Security benefits are calculated — while also calling for higher taxes.
Because the president’s budget also wipes out the $1.2 trillion in sequester cuts, Republicans argue that it would produce only $600 billion in net savings, a third of what the White House claims.
Mr. Obama’s spending blueprint will propose moving the inflation measure to the “chained” consumer price index to slow the growth of Social Security benefits by reducing payments over time to seniors and future retirees.
It also will call for higher-income beneficiaries to pay more for Medicare coverage and for $600 billion more in revenue, most of which would come from capping deductions that those in higher tax brackets can claim.
Republicans rejected the idea of new taxes, arguing that they agreed to tax increases as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal that passed Congress early in the year. The budget focus now should be on spending cuts alone, they insist.
House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, called the changes to Social Security “modest” and said Mr. Obama reportedly intends to offer them only if Republicans agree to increase taxes for the second time this year.
“If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there’s no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes,” Mr. Boehner said.