Obama budget said to include earlier debt reduction offer

The White House is telling lawmakers that President Barack Obama’s budget plan will mirror previous deficit-cutting proposals, which included changing the calculation for Social Security cost-of-living increases and tax brackets.

The budget plan, set for release April 10, will track the offer on spending cuts and revenue increases that Obama made to House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio as part of an end-of-the-year deal on expiring tax cuts, according to a person familiar with the discussions who asked for anonymity because the budget details haven’t been made public.

That plan included a new inflation gauge that would effectively reduce cost-of-living payments for Social Security beneficiaries, a measure that is sure to draw opposition from many Democrats. It also proposed using the calculation for adjusting income tax brackets, which would mean higher payments for many taxpayers.

The administration wouldn’t immediately confirm details about the president’s spending plan or whether he would seek to make the so-called chained Consumer Price Index the benchmark for Social Security increases or adjusting tax brackets.

President’s Priorities

While Obama’s fifth budget proposal stands little chance of becoming law because of opposition from Republicans who control the House, it emphasizes the president’s priorities and will set the stage for talks with Republicans on a broader debt-reduction package.

For the first time, Obama is poised to incorporate specific entitlement benefit cuts in his official budget, an attempt to signal to Republicans that he still wants to cut a deal on reducing the deficit.

Republicans have said the president needs to take the lead if there’s any chance to address the biggest long-term driver of the debt, Medicare spending, because Democratic lawmakers have resisted trimming entitlement-program costs.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said at an April 1 briefing that Obama remains open to using chained CPI for Social Security as a way to cut the program’s cost. “That offer remains on the table, as we’ve made clear repeatedly since then,” Carney said.

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