The head of the House Republican campaign arm blasted President Obama for including entitlement cuts in his budget on the same day Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) welcomed them and called for more.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden’s (R-Ore.) comments on CNN came under immediate fire from Democrats who accused the party of political hypocrisy.
The Obama budget gets over $100 billion in entitlement savings, including from Social Security, by changing the way that inflation is calculated. It also calls for higher Medicare premiums for wealthy seniors.
“Well, I thought it very intriguing in that the budget really lays out kind of a shocking attack on seniors, if you will,” Walden said on CNN.
“I think he's going to have a lot of pushback from some of the major senior organizations on this and Republicans, as well,” Walden said.
The comments contrast with the response from Boehner and other GOP leaders, who praised Obama for sticking his neck out on entitlements.
“While the president has backtracked on some of his entitlement reforms that were in conversations that we had a year and a half ago, he does deserve some credit for some incremental entitlement reforms that he has outlined in his budget,” Boehner told reporters Wednesday.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCC) called on Walden to apologize for his statements. The DCCC is in odd position, however, because many prominent liberal Democrats have also attacked Obama for the chained CPI proposal.
Walden also came under fire from the conservative Club for Growth, which expressed puzzlement at his position.
“With nearly $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities, the last thing Republicans should attack the Democrats for is for making the most minor reforms to our entitlement programs,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a statement. "If anything, President Obama nibbles around the edges of entitlement reform and doesn’t do anything to put entitlements on a permanently sustainable path.”
“Greg Walden ought to think about clarifying his remarks on chained CPI, and think about clarifying soon. I’m sure his constituents would like to know his opinion,” Chocola said.
Because it is also applied to the tax code, chained CPI raises tax revenue — something Club for Growth normally opposes.
Asked to respond to the DCCC, the NRCC doubled down on Walden’s comments.
“President Obama should apologize for offering the American people a budget that doesn’t balance and hurts seniors,” spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said. “Democrats have zero credibility when they themselves are the ones who spent two years unsuccessfully attacking the Ryan Plan rather than coming up with a plan to grow our economy.”
In last year’s presidential campaign Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) attacked Obama for cutting Medicare spending in order to enact ObamaCare, even though his own budget also counted the savings.
The 2014 Ryan budget also contains the same cuts to Medicare spending. The budget chairman argues that the key difference is that he is using the cuts to reduce the deficit instead of creating a new entitlement.
Ryan's budget did not include any cuts to Social Security and did not call for chained CPI.