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 SandersBig Pharma must address high drug prices Chafee: Negative coverage of Trump ‘tiresome’ Howard Dean endorses Buttigieg in DNC race MORE (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats, and includes embattled Sen. Mark BegichMark BegichThe future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map Trump campaign left out of Alaska voter guide 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 GillibrandDem senator predicts Gorsuch will be confirmed A guide to the committees: Senate Dems ask Trump admin to protect rule on seniors' health costs MORE (N.Y.), Mazie HironoMazie HironoA guide to the committees: Senate Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order Warren: GOP ramming DeVos 'down the throats of the American people' MORE (Hawaii), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseA guide to the committees: Senate Pruitt confirmation sets stage for Trump EPA assault Senate Dems ask DHS inspector general for probe of Trump’s business arrangement MORE (R.I.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Jack ReedJack ReedA guide to the committees: Senate Cruz: Supreme Court 'likely' to uphold Trump order Schumer: Trump should see 'handwriting on the wall,' drop order 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 Warren100 women get matching 'nevertheless she persisted' tattoos at Minneapolis shop Schumer: GOP plan to make Warren the face of Dems 'not going to work' A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (Mass.), Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyDem senator asks for 'top to bottom' review of Syria policy A guide to the committees: Senate Verizon angling to lower price of Yahoo purchase: report MORE (Vt.), Edward MarkeyEd MarkeyA guide to the committees: Senate GOP sets sights on internet privacy rules Overnight Tech: GOP chairman to propose high-skilled visa overhaul | Zuckerberg's 5,700 word letter | Tech lobbies gear up ahead of internet fight MORE (Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyA guide to the committees: Senate Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick Senate confirms Pruitt to lead EPA MORE (Ore.), Al FrankenAl FrankenAmericans should get used to pop culture blending with politics A guide to the committees: Senate Pruitt confirmation sets stage for Trump EPA assault MORE (Minn.), Tammy BaldwinTammy BaldwinA guide to the committees: Senate GOP loses top Senate contenders Duffy not running for Senate in 2018 MORE (Wis.), Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerCarly Fiorina 'certainly looking at' Virginia Senate run Top Obama adviser signs with Hollywood talent agency: report Democrats vie for chance to take on Trump as California governor MORE (Calif.) and Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalA guide to the committees: Senate Senate Dems ask DHS inspector general for probe of Trump’s business arrangement If Gorsuch pick leads to 'crisis,' Dems should look in mirror first 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.