White House: No Social Security cuts

Sept. 15, 2011 at 3:19 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama will protect Social Security from cuts in his latest plan to reduce the deficit, the White House said Thursday.

There was no similar pledge for Medicare.

The new position on Social Security negates what was a major concession in earlier unsuccessful "grand bargain" negotiations with Republicans and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, Politico reported.

The White House said the president's decision means changes to the inflation calculator for Social Security will not be in the new deficit-reduction package.

But the decision also will allow Obama to avoid a fight with his Democratic base over Social Security when he needs all the help he can get for his proposed $447 billion jobs program, Politico said.

White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said in a statement: "The president's recommendation for deficit reduction will not include any changes to Social Security because, as the president has consistently said, he does not believe that Social Security is a driver of our near and medium term deficits. He believes that both parties need to work together on a parallel track to strengthen Social Security for future generations rather than taking a piecemeal approach as part of a deficit reduction plan."

Politico said the administration may have to revisit unpopular Medicare cuts included in earlier failed negotiations with Boehner. In those negotiations, Obama infuriated Democrats by agreeing to slice more than $250 billion from Medicare, in part by raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67 and raising premiums for the wealthy.

Those ideas remain under discussion, officials familiar with the White House deliberations told Politico, but some Democrats are pushing the president to avoid addressing Medicare entirely.

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