GOP Hijacked the Budget Over Chained CPI in December, Now It’s Not Enough

john boehner

In December of 2012, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said he had to have chained CPI. Oh, a little chained CPI would be compromise and if he got it, he’d give the President $1 trillion in revenue, “President Barack Obama is considering a possible budget concession on Social Security cost-of-living increases after House Speaker John Boehner dropped his opposition to raising tax rates for some top earners, said two people familiar with the talks…. A Republican congressional aide said Boehner is pressing harder for the CPI revision than for other entitlement changes, such as an increase in the Medicare eligibility age.”

Give us the chained CPI and we’ll give you 1 trillion in revenue, Republicans offered in December. Cut to April of 2013: Obama offers them chained CPI, and guess what?

Chained CPI is not enough of a compromise! It’s not even a real start. It’s just “rhetoric”. Boehner’s full statement:

“The president and I were not able to reach an agreement late last year because his offers never lived up to his rhetoric. Despite talk about so-called balance, the president’s last offer was significantly skewed in favor of higher taxes and included only modest entitlement savings. He said he could go no further toward the middle, and that’s why his last offer was rejected. In the end, the president got his tax hikes on the wealthy with no corresponding spending cuts. At some point we need to solve our spending problem, and what the president has offered would leave us with a budget that never balances. In reality, he’s moved in the wrong direction, routinely taking off the table entitlement reforms he’s previously told me he could support.

“When the president visited the Capitol last month, House Republicans stated a desire to find common ground and urged him not to make savings we agree upon conditional on another round of tax increases. If reports are accurate, the president has not heeded that call. If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there’s no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes. That’s no way to lead and move the country forward.”

According to Speaker Boehner’s logic, by giving Republicans exactly what they asked for, Obama has proven that he is unwilling to compromise. Yes, because when the other side offers you exactly what you said you wanted and you don’t take it, but instead raise the bar, and don’t offer your own concessions, they are at fault because their offers don’t live up to their “rhetoric”. Speaking of rhetoric, it’s tough to imagine how Boehner can be so confident regarding his assessment of Obam’as budget offer when he never read Obama’s budget?

In case you’re not convinced that Republicans knew what they wanted as they held the country hostage last year, in December, chained CPI was the sticking point, “A Democratic aide said the problem was that McConnell’s proposal includes basing Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustments on something called a chained CPI, a measure of inflation that grows more slowly than the way Social Security measures inflation now.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConell (R-KY) even told the Wall Street Journal that chained CPI and means testing for Medicare “are the kinds of things that would get Republicans interested in new revenue.”

In fact, chained CPI was the hold up last December. It was the surprise attack, the last reason Republicans gave us for why they would not agree with the other side:

Republicans have added changes to Social Security spending to their list of fiscal cliff demands, in a last-minute surprise that Democrats are characterizing as a major setback in negotiations.

According to new reports, Republican Senate negotiators are now demanding that any fiscal cliff deal include a switch to the chained CPI in calculating Social Security cost-of-living increases.

Grace Wyler, continuing on Business Insider pointed out, “National Review editor Robert Costa suggests that Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s new insistence on the chained CPI might be a political tactic aimed at helping House Speaker John Boehner save face by boosting support for a deal among GOP House members.”

Again, we return to the real problem. Boehner’s House of tea. Republicans keep finding a new excuse for why they can’t compromise, when the truth of the matter is that they don’t have the votes for anything other than something as immoral, extreme and ineffective as Paul Ryan’s “budget”.

President Obama gave Republicans exactly what they said they wanted. Progressives are furious with him over it. Once again we reach an impasse when we get to the part where Republicans are supposed to give something.

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