As Samuel Knight at the Washington Monthly took note of this Sunday, it seems the White House may be getting the message that they're going to have a lot of trouble from their own party if they continue to remain open to chained CPI for Social Security as part of some deficit deal with the Republicans. I was happy to see new White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough push back at David Gregory's assertion that it was necessary to raise the Medicare retirement age to address the problems with the program.
David Gregory did his best to repeat one Republican talking point after another while pressing McDonough on whether the administration is going to be willing to cross his base and go after our social safety nets to get some deal on deficit reduction and as McDonough correctly pointed out, raising that age for Medicare isn't going to do a thing to reduce costs, it just shifts them around:
While on on ABC’s “This Week,” he was questioned about John Boehner’s assertion that President Obama lacks “the guts…to take on the liberal side of his own party” in budget negotiations.
McDonough responded with talking points, stressing that the White House will strengthen the middle class and the economy while seeking to pay back debt “in a balanced way.”
White on NBC’s “Meet The Press” he issued similar responses to David Gregory’s questions on the same issue, saying that President Obama would not seek to reduce government investments and weaken programs that help middle class families at a time when the economy is improving but still fragile. He also indicated that President Obama would not isolate Congressional Democrats that want to raise taxes on the wealthy, reiterating the President’s insistence on doing debt reduction “in a balanced way.”
In terms of the social safety net, McDonough told Gregory that the President wouldn’t seek to raise the retirement age, calling it a “cost shifter.” He said that Affordable Care Act plans to rein in Medicare spending will lead to the sort of outlay reductions sought by Simpson-Bowles.
But more importantly than what he said is what he didn’t say: that the President, according to a Jay Carney press conference earlier this week, “remains open to the chained CPI” as part of social security reform.
That McDonough wasn’t instructed to discuss the chained CPI indicates that either the White House isn’t actually keen on it, or that it simply isn’t eager to brag about its openness to the idea.
Let's hope it's the former. Once again, David Gregory remained true to form, where he can't seem to manage to make it though an interview without asking how much pain can be inflicted on the working class.