Irate liberal groups to fight Obama budget proposal

CBS

President Obama on Wednesday will introduce a budget proposal that, even by his own standards, isn't great. In his weekly radio address on Saturday, the president acknowledged it's not his "ideal plan" for reducing the deficit or growing the economy.

It shouldn't be that surprising, then, that his party's progressive base is irate. A collection of liberal grassroots groups are joining with organized labor other groups Tuesday to make it clear to the White House that they flat out oppose one of the key elements of Mr. Obama's plan -- the seemingly innocuous proposal to change the way the government measures inflation.

"This is a challenge, but we don't feel we have any choice but to do everything we can to change the outcome of this debate from where the president seems to be driving it," Max Richtman, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, told CBSNews.com.

Richtman's organization and several others are delivering more than a million petition signatures to the White House Tuesday, opposing any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

While the White House has yet to lay out the details of the president's proposed 2014 budget, it has confirmed that cuts to Social Security are part of the plan -- in the shape of a "chained" consumer price index (chained CPI), or a change in measuring inflation.

A "chained" CPI measures inflation more conservatively (about 0.2 or 0.3 percentage points more slowly) than the standard CPI that's currently used to make cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security benefits.

Democrats in Congress have had no qualms about labeling the potential use of the chained CPI as cut to Social Security benefits, and last week, the White House didn't deny it.

"This is not the president's idealized budget," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday, when asked about the fact that the chained CPI would not only effectively cut benefits for seniors, but also for veterans. "It is not what he would do if he were king or if only people who supported his proposals were in Congress."

Opponents of the chained CPI are skeptical that putting this offer on the table will make Republicans any more open to increasing tax revenues as part of a deficit reduction plan. Richtman pointed out that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has suggested Republicans would like to take the president's concession without offering up any of their own.

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