Barack Obama

The proposal, to be released next week, would cut Social Security and other benefits by lowering the cost-of-living adjustment. It would also cut Medicare and raise some taxes on the wealthy.

By Lisa Mascaro and Christi Parsons, Washington Bureau
April 5, 2013, 5:12 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The budget that President Obama is scheduled to release next week drew attacks Friday from both the left and right — a reaction that White House aides appeared to welcome as they sought to portray the plan as a middle-of-the-road attempt at compromise.

Obama will propose cutting Social Security and other government benefits by lowering the cost-of-living adjustment, putting a key GOP demand into his formal budget for the first time. The proposal would form part of a $1.8-trillion deficit-reduction plan that would also increase taxes, trim Medicare and eliminate the current across-the-board “sequester” cuts that Obama has called damaging to the economy.

White House officials confirmed the plan to reporters Friday, and both sides immediately began shooting at it. Critics on the left complained that Obama was proving himself a poor negotiator by opening new negotiations with what had been his final offer last year in talks with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

“If you start with your best offer on the table, the question is where are you going to go from there?” said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and a former member of Obama’s economic team.

The proposal leaves Democrats “politically twisting in the wind,” said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who called the cost-of-living change a “nonstarter.”

Republican leaders insisted that Obama’s plan did not cut Social Security and Medicare enough. Nor, they said, would they accept the new taxes the president wants.

Boehner said he had turned down Obama’s offer in December for good reason: It was “significantly skewed in favor of higher taxes and included only modest entitlement savings.”

“That’s why his last offer was rejected,” Boehner said in a statement. “At some point we need to solve our spending problem.”

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