The Hill

By Mike Lillis – 04/14/13 06:00 AM ET

A growing number of House Democrats are concerned that President Obama’s proposal to cut Social Security benefits will haunt the party at the polls in 2014.

Although Democrats have long-championed the retirement program, they say Obama’s plan to reduce payments for future beneficiaries through a chained consumer price index (CPI) has weakened their stance and opened the door for Republicans to vilify the president.

The leader of the campaign arm for House Republicans, Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), on Wednesday called Obama’s plan a “shocking attack on seniors.”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Walden’s comments foreshadow a line of attack the GOP will use on the campaign trail next year. It’s a reason, he added, for Democrats to worry.

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“There are the substantive concerns about the chained CPI — I share many of them — but there are also the political concerns,” Van Hollen said Friday. “And the fact [is] that Republicans were very quick to show they would use this as a political weapon against Democrats.

“I know there have been efforts to rewind the tape on that,” Van Hollen said, referencing Republican criticisms of Walden’s comments, “but that first salvo demonstrated what the Republican campaign committee intends to do.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said Obama’s Social Security proposal was a gift to Republicans that could single-handedly kill any chance the party had at regaining the Speaker’s gavel in 2014.

“Seniors vote in even heavier numbers, proportionately, in off-year elections,” he said. “So just looking at a political standpoint … I would think that this would be a damning blow to our chances of taking back the House next year.”

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