By Erik Wasson - 02/14/14 01:11 PM EST
Senate Dems warn Obama on Social Security, Medicare cuts
Senate Democrats on Friday told President Obama they don’t want to see cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid in his annual budget.
Sixteen senators wrote to the president as fears persist among liberals that Obama will once again offer some entitlement cuts in his budget, which is set to be released March 4.
In last April’s budget, Obama proposed changing the way the government calculates inflation. The change to the chained consumer price index (CPI) would have reduced retirement benefits as well as increasing some taxes.
Obama also proposed increasing means testing for outpatient and drug benefits under Medicare.
In total, the budget had $1 trillion in spending cuts the administration touted as a sign of Obama’s seriousness on the deficit.
The Senate Democrats are warning that cuts to Social Security do not jive with the president’s focus on income inequality. The issue of entitlement spending is a highly charged one this election year, and many Democrats are trying to paint themselves as the party with compassion.
“Mr. President: These are tough times for our country. With the middle class struggling and more people living in poverty than ever before, we urge you not to propose cuts in your budget to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits – cuts which would make life even more difficult for some of the most vulnerable people in America,” the senators said.
The letter to Obama was organized by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPicking longtime fixer as chief of staff proves Clinton hasn't changed The Trail 2016: Wikissues Brent Budowsky: An epic battle for the future of Congress MORE (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats, and includes embattled Sen. Mark BegichMark BegichTrump campaign left out of Alaska voter guide Ryan's victory trumps justice reform opponents There is great responsibility being in the minority MORE (D-Alaska) as a signatory.
“Social Security has not contributed one penny to the deficit,,” the letter goes on to state. “We are also opposed to shifting the cost of healthcare onto senior citizens, the poor, and the disabled by cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits.”
The other signatories to the letter are: Democratic Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMusic streamer Spotify joins Gillibrand’s push for paid family leave Gillibrand proposes sexual assault reforms for Merchant Marine Academy Podesta floated Bill Gates, Bloomberg as possible Clinton VPs MORE (N.Y.), Mazie HironoMazie HironoSenate Dems target Wells Fargo auditor Dems up pressure on Wells Fargo executives Overnight Finance: Lawmakers float criminal charges for Wells Fargo chief | Scrutiny on Trump's Cuba dealings | Ryan warns of recession if no tax reform MORE (Hawaii), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseMoney for nothing: Rethinking CO2 Dem takes Exxon fight to GOP chairman's backyard Anti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP MORE (R.I.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Jack ReedJack ReedTop Lobbyists 2016: Hired Guns Armani, Batali among guests at White House state dinner Overnight Finance: Jobless claims near record low | Cops bust IRS phone scam in India | Republican demands Iran sanctions docs MORE (R.I.), Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (Iowa), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenEmbattled GOP senator fires back at Warren Brent Budowsky: An epic battle for the future of Congress President Obama’s antitrust enforcement MORE (Mass.), Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyDemocrats pounce on Cruz's Supreme Court comments Key GOP chairman calls for 'robust review' of AT&T-Time Warner deal Dem asks for 'highest level of scrutiny' on AT&T-Time Warner deal MORE (Vt.), Edward MarkeyEd MarkeyFCC approves new privacy rules for 'sensitive' internet data Senate Dems target Wells Fargo auditor Senate Dems want major women's golf event moved off Trump course MORE (Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleySanders warns Clinton: Don't rush to compromise with GOP Overnight Healthcare: Top ObamaCare lobbyists reject 'public option' push | Groups sound alarm over Medicare premium hike Top ObamaCare lobbyists reject 'public option' push MORE (Ore.), Al FrankenAl FrankenFCC privacy rules veer off course in eleventh hour White House contest casts shadow over mega-deal Obama takes aim at workers’ non-compete agreements MORE (Minn.), Tammy BaldwinTammy BaldwinGreat Lakes senators seek boost for maritime system Why Congress needs an openly atheist member, now Podesta floated Bill Gates, Bloomberg as possible Clinton VPs MORE (Wis.), Barbara BoxerBarbara Boxer25 years after court gutted rule, EPA could finally ban asbestos Everything you need to know about the National Guard's bonus controversy Lawmakers praise bonus-clawback suspension, pledge permanent fix MORE (Calif.) and Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalCalifornia National Guard official: Congress knew about bonus repayments Dems demand anti-LGBT language be taken out of defense bill Senate Dems want major women's golf event moved off Trump course MORE (Conn.).
Sanders said in an interview that, given the fact the annual budget deficit has been cut in half, Obama's focus has to shift to helping the middle class and poor.
"The focus of attention right now has got to be on the collapsing middle class," Sanders said. "What we need from the president now is a reassurance that he is not going to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."
On Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked at the daily briefing whether chained CPI will be in the budget, and he declined to say.
"What I can tell you is the president has demonstrated in the past and continues — and will continue to demonstrate his commitment to achieving additional deficit reduction that addresses our medium- and long-term challenges through a balanced approach," he said.