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.  
 
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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. 
 
 
“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 Elizabeth GillibrandChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Overnight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick Dems lambaste Trump’s ‘outrageous’ EPA chemical safety pick MORE (N.Y.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoTop general says Iran complying with nuclear deal Live coverage: Sanders rolls out single-payer bill Where Dems stand on Sanders's single-payer bill MORE (Hawaii), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDem senator: 'How many lives must be lost before we act?' Sen. Manchin won’t vote for Trump’s mine safety nominee Overnight Regulation: SEC chief grilled over hack | Dems urge Labor chief to keep Obama overtime rule | Russia threatens Facebook over data storage law MORE (R.I.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Raymond ReedTop general says Iran complying with nuclear deal Top general: Transgender troops shouldn't be separated from military Dems ask FEC to create new rules in response to Russian Facebook ads MORE (R.I.), Tom HarkinTom HarkinThe Hill's 12:30 Report Distance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds MORE (Iowa), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Finance: Lawmakers grill Equifax chief over hack | Wells Fargo CEO defends bank's progress | Trump jokes Puerto Rico threw budget 'out of whack' | Mortgage tax fight tests industry clout Michelle Obama is exactly who the Democrats need to win big in 2020 Wells Fargo chief defends bank's progress in tense Senate hearing MORE (Mass.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Regulation: Massachusetts AG sues Equifax | Trump weighs easing rules on gun exports | EPA nominee to fight worker safety rule in court Trump to ease rules on gun exports: report Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (Vt.), Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDems lambaste Trump’s ‘outrageous’ EPA chemical safety pick Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada Dem senator pitches ideas for gun control after shooting MORE (Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick Dem senator slams Trump for dedicating golf trophy to hurricane victims Dem senator compares Trump to Marie Antoinette MORE (Ore.), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenThe Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report John Oliver rips AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE (Minn.), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinKoch-backed group targets red-state Dems on tax reform Justices weigh partisan gerrymandering in potential landmark case Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada MORE (Wis.), Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTrump riles Dems with pick for powerful EPA job Pelosi's chief of staff stepping down Time is now to address infrastructure needs MORE (Calif.) and Richard Blumenthal (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.