The President is taking criticism from the right and left over his budget. Both the House and Senate will hold hearings Tuesday, with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in the hot seat.
Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, has been one of the leading voices challenging the Obama budget from the left for its changes to Social Security and Medicare.
“I think we should make changes in Social Security to make sure that Social Security can pay out all benefits for the next 50 or 75 years,” Sanders said on Jansing & Co. Monday. ”What I do not believe is that we should support the so-called chained CPI, which makes very, very significant cuts in Social Security on the backs of people who can ill afford to experience those cuts.”
“CPI” is the consumer price index. The phrase “chained CPI” refers to changes to the way the cost of living adjustments are calculated for Social Security. But, according to numbers put out by Democratic Strategist Robert Shrum in The Daily Beast, “Chained CPI would initially yield about $2 less a month in the average Social Security check. And as its effects multiplied, in 20 years, the difference would be $126-approximately $2,100 instead of $2,200 a month.”
“The numbers that I believe to be absolutely accurate are that if you’re 65 now, by the time you’re 75 you’re going to lose $650 dollars a year. Period,” Sanders said on Jansing & Co.
Sanders says there will be consequences for lawmakers who go against what people want.
“If people choose to go against what the vast majority in their districts, in their states believe – then they have to pay a price,” Sanders said on Jansing & Co.
As for the political implications, backing the President’s budget could be politically risky for Democrats.
Jackie Calmes wrote in The New York Times ”In the midterm races already taking shape, Democrats who back Mr.Obama’s budget proposals to trim future benefits as part of a long-term deficit-reduction compromise could be attacked from the left and the right.”
“Would I be surprised if Democrats support the President’s cuts to Social Security that Republicans will jump on that issue in 30 second TV ads, I certainly would not be surprised,” Sanders said.
But, National Journal’s Ron Fournier disagrees, saying if both sides “did their jobs” there would be no political ramifications.
“There’s a huge policy incentive to have a big budget deal, there’s a huge political incentive on both sides to have a budget deal,” Fournier said.