By Fred Barnes
With President Obama, there’s always a catch. In the 2014 budget he announced last week, Obama proposed a more accurate way of calculating the inflation rate for annual cost-of-living increases in Social Security. It’s a technical change in pursuit of honesty and good government. And if adopted, it would cause benefits to grow more slowly, though almost imperceptibly so. Republican leaders in Congress ought to be delighted since they had “championed”—Obama’s word—the idea in the first place.
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Then came the catch. The president’s price for adopting this gentle reform was hundreds of billions in new tax increases. It was a price Republicans were certain to reject, as Obama surely knew. Rather than grounds for a bipartisan bargain, his “compromise” was a political contrivance to put Republicans at a disadvantage.
It may work. Now Obama will accuse Republicans of not being serious about deficit reduction. Now he will blame them for obstructing a deal on spending and taxes. Now he will claim their motive was solely to shield the wealthy. We’ve heard all this before—and it’s worked before.