President Obama’s Budget Gamble
Copies of President Obama’s budget proposal are distributed Wednesday morning on Capitol Hill. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.
President Barack Obama took a risk by deciding to include changes to Medicare and Social Security in his 2014 fiscal year budget. And, as with all true gambles, political or otherwise, it comes with an uncertain fate.
By offering to alter the formula for calculating Social Security cost-of-living increases, which would reduce future benefits, Mr. Obama has rankled some of his liberal allies in a bid to attract Republican support for a long-term deal on the deficit.
Overall, the Obama administration calculates the 10-year blueprint, which will be unveiled Wednesday, would save $1.8 trillion, on top of $2.5 trillion in reductions already agreed to since 2011. For the 2014 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, the administration projects that the federal deficit would be $744 billion.
Senior administration officials outlined the details of the outline Tuesday, calling it a “fiscally responsible plan for middle-class jobs and growth.” With the $4.3 trillion in combined savings achieved, they said the proposal “turns off” the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending reductions that began to take effect earlier this year.
Under Mr. Obama’s proposal, the deficit would drop to 1.7 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product by 2023, what the officials called “an important milestone of fiscal sustainability.”
They said any new investments in the budget are fully paid for by tax increases and closing corporate tax loopholes. Those measures, which the president has put forward in the past, would result in $580 billion in fresh revenues, according to administration officials.
Mr. Obama seeks to eliminate tax breaks for offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands, companies that ship jobs overseas and corporate jet owners. He would also require people with annual incomes above $1 million to pay at least 30 percent in income taxes (aka the “Buffett Rule”) and limit deductions for the top 2 percent of wage earners.
Politico posted a six-page overview of the budget containing more details of the plan.
Mr. Obama’s offer Wednesday completes the budget picture on Capitol Hill, as both House and Senate lawmakers approved blueprints of their own last month before the two-week recess. The House version, authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would slash $4.6 trillion over the next decade without increasing taxes and transform Medicare into a premium support system.
The plan that passed the Democratic-controlled Senate, meanwhile, raised $1 trillion in new revenue and left entitlement programs unchanged.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., deflected questions Tuesday about whether Democrats would be willing to support Mr. Obama’s offer to change the cost-of-living formula, or chained CPI.
“We worked until 5 o’clock in the morning the last day we were here before the break. And we have our budget, and it was passed. It’s a good budget. It sets our priorities. I think they’re priorities of the American people and the Democrats. The president has his budget,” Reid told reporters.
As details of the president’s plan began to emerge last week, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the “modest entitlement savings” should not be “held hostage for more tax hikes.”
With progressives angered by his offer on entitlements and conservatives not yet sold on his commitment to reforming the programs, that leaves Mr. Obama staking out what appears to be some very lonely middle ground.
Mr. Obama will deliver remarks on the budget at 11 a.m. ET Wednesday in the Rose Garden, and he will surely try to bolster support for his plan when he meets with a dozen Republican senators for dinner at the White House later in the evening.
Watch Wednesday’s NewsHour night for analysis.
With a deal expected Wednesday morning on background check legislation, Reid set up a Thursday voting showdown on the overall gun control measure amid a week of intensified public pressure on lawmakers considering the issue.
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., have planned an 11 a.m. ET news conference to detail their agreement on a proposal to expand the background check system. That legislation would replace the current proposal that passed out of committee with only Democratic votes.
The bipartisan deal could help clear the way for passage, but Reid must first bust a possible filibuster by at least 13 GOP senators. The Democrats made this chart to track Republicans who don’t want to debate the bill. Reid’s counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., had said this week he would join a filibuster if the bill reached the floor in its current form. The Manchin-Toomey pact likely would change things. If 60 senators agree, the chamber will formally start debate Thursday on the gun control package, which looks to end straw purchases and boost school safety and would include doomed amendments, such as an assault weapons ban and limits on purchases of high-capacity magazines.
Reid echoed Mr. Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and others by attacking Republicans who would filibuster the plan.
“It would be a real slap in the face to the American people not to do something on background checks, on school safety, on federal trafficking, which everybody thinks is a good idea,” Reid told reporters Tuesday. “On background checks, even the vast, vast majority of people who belong to the NRA support that.”
Bloomberg’s Julie Bykowicz & Heidi Przybyla examined how the tactics used by gun control groups differ from the NRA. Meanwhile, first lady Michelle Obama will address urban violence during an appearance Wednesday in Chicago.
Don’t miss this detailed infographic from NewsHour’s Elizabeth Shell and Vanessa Dennis that charts how state-by-state gun control and gun rights laws are faring.
On Tuesday’s NewsHour, Judy Woodruff offered a detailed discussion and debate on the background check issue. She talked with Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson and Lawrence Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Watch here or below:
For all the discussion about what may pass the Senate, don’t forget that any gun control measures face long odds in the Republican-controlled House.
The Senate’s Gang of Eight could reveal its immigration proposaI as soon as Thursday, but aides cautioned that early next week is more likely. Divisions over the legislation are once again dividing the right, with Americans for Tax Reform and Cato supporting comprehensive reform and Jim DeMint, president of The Heritage Foundation, calling it amnesty.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., announced Tuesday that agriculture workers and growers have reached a tentative deal, which could speed up release of the Gang’s legislation. However, the growers haven’t yet approved the deal, and debate persists over visas for high-tech workers.
The battle over judicial nominee Sri Srinivasan is reigniting filibuster reform talk.
Sens. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, John Thune of South Dakota, John Boozman of Arkansas and Orrin Hatch of Utah are among a dozen Republican lawmakers invited by Mr. Obama to the White House for dinner Wednesday. The president also broke bread with Republicans last month at the Jefferson Hotel. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that considering the economy, the president and lawmakers should forgo a fancy dinner and instead order pizza. He even offered to pick up the bill.
McConnell’s re-election campaign is working with the FBI to investigate how Mother Jones’ David Corn procured tapes of the team working behind closed doors. Mother Jones responded, defending its source’s anonymity and asserting it wasn’t a “Watergate-style bugging.” McConnell’s team was recorded discussing strategies to smear actress Ashley Judd’s mental health and moral stability. She has said she will not run for his Kentucky seat.
Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., says he opposes same-sex marriage. He’s one of the last Senate Democrats not to “evolve” on the issue this year. He faces re-election in 2014.
The New York Times Magazine devotes its cover story to Anthony Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin, as the former congressman explores running for mayor of New York City.
Chicago voters Tuesday made it official: Robin Kelly is coming to Congress to replace ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson.
Virginia GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell insists that his daughter and her husband paid for their own wedding and that a $15,000 check for the catering from a major donor was a gift to his daughter, and therefore wasn’t disclosed. But documents reveal McDonnell had invested more in the catering than he admitted, and when the catering company issued a refund check, it went to McDonnell’s wife, not to the donor or McDonnell’s daughter.
Count the Blue Angels among the victims of the sequester. The Navy announced the precision flying team will be grounded for the remainder of its 2013 show season because of federal spending cuts, the Associated Press reports.
Cancer patients involved in clinical trials are seeing disruption because of sequestration. Because of the mandatory federal budget cuts, some treatment centers have ended trial programs, forcing patients to travel elsewhere, the Huffington Post reports.
Freshman Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, announced she will return 5 percent of her salary while sequestration cuts are in effect.
In the first attack ad against his re-election campaign, progressive group One New Jersey hits GOP Gov. Chris Christie on the state’s 9.3 percent unemployment rate.
Meanwhile, the Star-Ledger reports that New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, who has endorsed Democratic candidate Barbara Buono, may be showing his true colors as a “Christiecrat” by “considering reviving a tax cut proposal that could hand Gov. Chris Christie a major political victory.” Buono was of the main opponents of the 10 percent income tax cut Christie proposed last year.
Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post asks: “What happened to Bobby Jindal?”
Mr. Obama appointed longtime Democratic aide Melanie Roussell as the assistant secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Treasury Department told members of Congress that Beyonce and Jay-Z had a valid license to travel to Cuba.
Texts from Hillary was named the best Tumblr site of 2012 at the Shorty Awards.
- Daniel Newhauser delivers the good news for Hill staffers in Roll Call: The Spotify ban has been scrapped.
Justin Scuiletti edited a video montage of the Iraq War, the 10 year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad and the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein.
NewsHour superstars Michael Fritz and April Brown were nominated for a Webby Award for their American Graduate series story about Victor Rios. Here is our other nomination, for best television website.
The PBS Ombudsman reveals a soft spot for the NewsHour.
- Jenny Marder breaks down a study that shows some monkey speech is similar to humans.
— Jessica Sidman (@jsidman) April 9, 2013
— PBS (@PBS) April 9, 2013
I thought it was The Atlantic that was at the Watergate.
— Stefan Becket (@stefanjbecket) April 9, 2013
Cherry blossom time, people. Go. RT @steveholland1: Only in Washington: Crowd chanting “no chained CPI” outside White House NW gate
— gwen ifill (@pbsgwen) April 9, 2013
Katelyn Polantz, Cassie M. Chew and Politics Desk Assistant Simone Pathe contributed to this report.
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