GOP To The Rescue On Chained CPI - For Now. Who'd A Thunk It?

There has been a lot of chaos caused in Congress and to the American people ever since the teaBirchers took over the House in 2010, but some unintentional good things have happened because of them. In 2011, Speaker of the House, John Boehner was

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There has been a lot of chaos caused in Congress and to the American people ever since the teaBirchers took over the House in 2010, but some unintentional good things have happened because of them. In 2011, Speaker of the House, John Boehner was forced to turn down an incredible Grand Bargain deal for the Republicans over the dreary debt ceiling debacle. Included in the deal was drastic cuts to to federal spending as well as entitlement cuts.

Obama offered to put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cuts on the table in exchange for a tax hike of roughly $100 billion per year over 10 years. Meanwhile, government spending would be cut by roughly three times that amount.

So approximately sixteen months later Obama wins reelection campaigning on tax increases and guess what? Boehner and the entire GOP got zilch for their troubles. I can tell you I was very happy when Boehner rejected that God awful deal. Now with the fiscal cliff looming in a matter of hours, Obama offered Boehner and the GOP a massive cut to Social Security benefits that they've been clamoring for by offering to switch to the chained CPI method of calculating Social Security payouts in exchange for making a deal on raising tax rates which has been a demand by the GOP and they turned him down once again.

Tense "fiscal cliff" negotiations on Capitol Hill Sunday inched forward slightly as Republican senators agreed to take Social Security cuts off their list of immediate demands.The cut that GOP leaders had proposed -- picking up on a now-defunct offer from President Barack Obama -- involved basing Social Security cost-of-living adjustments on a chained consumer price index (CPI), which grows more slowly than current measures of inflation and therefore would give seniors less in benefits as time went on. But Senate Republicans realized in a caucus meeting Sunday afternoon that the idea was a loser for now, even if they might return to it in reaching a larger deal later on.

"CPI has to be off the table because it's not a winning argument to say benefits for seniors versus tax breaks for rich people," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "We need to take CPI off the table -- that's not part of the negotiations -- because we can't win an argument that has Social Security for seniors versus taxes for the rich.”

"There's a realization that in spite of the president's apparent endorsement of a chained CPI that that proposal deserves more study," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). "My guess, based on what Democrats are saying is that that reform would not happen during this stage of the negotiations."

Every day we don't cut The Big Three is a good day, no matter who is responsible for it. In the above video which was supplied to me by the lovely Heather of Video Cafe, Sen. Jon Thune tries to explain to Dana Bash of CNN why Republicans are now refusing to include chained CPI in the current deal for the fiscal cliff.

Thune: The one thing that is a, you know, Democrats have come out and made a big deal out of chained CPI; Republicans are very concerned that if that not be used as an offset to reduce or to replace some of the spending cuts that would occur in the sequester, that Democrats put forward an alternative.

And so this is a process. Obviously, there's a lot of give and take going on right now, but Republicans don't want to see new revenues, in other words, Democrat tax increases, be used for new spending. So that's sort of where many of our members have drawn the line right now.

BASH: And that is where it seems to be one of the big roadblocks are right now. You all want to use what's known as chained CPI, which is a technical -- I won't get into it now but it would effectively really affect Social Security recipients to replace the sequester, which is $100 billion in cuts. And Democrats want to use new revenue from tax increases to replace the sequester.

Is that where you see it?

THUNE: Well, I think that's a -- that -- yes, I mean, there are other issues involved but that's certainly one example of something I think where -- and frankly, I mean, chained CPI to us is not just about replacing the sequester today. It is putting in place a policy that will help save and protect Social Security in the long term.

But that being said, if Democrats don't accept that as an offset, then come up with something else, because raising taxes to pay for new spending is not something that Republicans believe, this debate ought to be about. It ought to be about reducing the deficit and the debt. And what they are essentially suggesting is we want new taxes, we want higher taxes on people in this country to pay for new spending.

If you can make heads or tails from Thune's explanation of it, he does say that Republicans do want to use C-CPI savings to replace the sequester, so earlier arguments about saving the benefit program is a lie.

What's also unfortunate is that President Obama bragged about including chained CPI in his fiscal deal offer to Dancing David Gregory on Sunday.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: ...but I already have, David, as you know, one of the proposals we made was something called Chain CPI, which sounds real technical but basically makes an adjustment in terms of how inflation is calculated on Social Security. Highly unpopular among Democrats. Not something supported by AARP. But in pursuit of strengthening Social Security for the long-term I'm willing to make those decisions.

A Democratic president should never, ever offer this up to Republicans. Chained CPI doesn't strengthen Social Security at all. It cuts benefits for all seniors depending on it to survive as they get older. Luckily the GOP's tortured logic took hold over them and they nixed the proposal.

Now we have to help make sure President Obama and Congressional Democrats do not roll over during the looming debt ceiling vote and try to give away the store. Heck, they've tried before.

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