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Iowa reaction to Obama's budget proposal, latest postal delivery news

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 15:20:00 PM CDT


President Barack Obama formally presented his draft budget for fiscal year 2014 today. Click through for details, but here are the top numbers:

The $1.058 trillion budget for fiscal year 2014 - which arrived on Capitol Hill about two months late - includes $3.77 trillion in total spending, including entitlements.

It would add $5.3 trillion in new deficit spending over 10 years and increase spending in 2014 by $160 billion compared to current law.

Statements from Representatives Dave Loebsack, Tom Latham, and Steve King are after the jump, along with press releases from several Iowa advocacy groups. I am seeking comment on the president's budget from all the members of Iowa's Congressional delegation and will update this post as needed. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement called attention to the fact that Representative Bruce Braley has not explained his position on changing the Social Security cost of living adjustment to calculate benefits with a chained consumer price index. The president's budget includes the "chained CPI" proposal, a truly terrible idea. The AARP said today it is "deeply dismayed that President Obama would propose cutting the benefits of current and future Social Security recipients, including children, widows, veterans and people with disabilities, to reduce the deficit."

Also today, the U.S. Postal Service announced that it has delayed plans to cancel Saturday mail delivery. Comments from Loebsack and Representative Bruce Braley are at the end of this post. Both of them had strongly criticized the idea when floated in February.  

desmoinesdem :: Iowa reaction to Obama's budget proposal, latest postal delivery news
Comment via e-mail from Representative Dave Loebsack (D, IA-02):

"I strongly believe we must balance the budget and get our fiscal house in order.  But, as I have repeatedly said, it cannot be on the backs of seniors, the middle class, and the most vulnerable.  While the budget put forward by the President makes some important investments to increase economic growth, I do not believe he should be pushing for a switch to the 'chained CPI' for Social Security recipients.  Iowans pay into Social Security all their lives for the promise of security in retirement."

Press release from Representative Tom Latham (R, IA-03):

LATHAM STATEMENT ON OBAMA BUDGET
Two Months Late, Budget Contains More Spending, Higher Taxes, Never Balances - Which Is No Way to Run a Government

Washington, Apr 10 -

Iowa Congressman Tom Latham released the following statement today upon the release of the President's budget, which never achieves balance and arrived more than two months beyond the due date required by law:

"Iowans are craving responsibility from their elected leaders, and submitting a budget two months late that contains more spending, more tax increases and never balances is no way to run a government - not even close.

"In order to set this country on a path to fiscal responsibility and economic growth, we need to balance the budget while saving and strengthening Medicare, protecting seniors' health care choices, and truly reforming our broken tax system. The House has already approved such a plan with my support, and I look forward to continuing my work with colleagues from either party or chamber to make its proposals the law of the land.

"Our nation is broke, we know how to fix it, and it's not with more reckless spending and nearly $600 billion of tax increases on families and small businesses who need to make ends meet."

Press release from Representative Steve King (R, IA-04):

Washington, DC- Congressman Steve King released the following statement in response to President Obama's budget request for Fiscal Year 2014:

"After giving a head-fake to the media that his new budget would move to the center, the President today released another left-wing, tax-and-spend budget that is out of step with what this country needs. After repeating the word 'balance' time and time again, President Obama today followed the Senate Democrats' lead by offering a budget that never balances.

Just last month, House Republicans made the tough choices the American people are demanding. Instead of throwing up our hands and demanding more from hard-working taxpayers, we passed a budget that made the tough spending choices that are necessary, and got to balance in ten years without raising taxes. The President's budget, on the other hand, would raise taxes another $1.1 trillion. That's on top of last year's $600 billion tax increase and ObamaCare's $1 trillion tax increase. We're already on track to have well above average tax revenues for years to come, but when it comes to tax revenue, it is clear that for the President, too much is not enough.

Like his past budgets, President Obama's new budget pulls out all the tricks: tax increases disguised as tax reform and budget gimmicks disguised as spending cuts, yet even then his new budget adds $8.2 trillion in debt. The President's budget itself is an admission that you can never get to balance by chasing ever higher spending with ever higher taxes.

President Obama says his goal 'is not to chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance,' but the CBO just recently said that our debt will have 'serious negative consequences,' including lower wages for American workers, an increased risk for a financial crisis, and a huge increase in debt payments. We need to balance our budget. House Republicans didn't 'chase' balance, we delivered it. It's disappointing that the President refuses to show similar leadership."

It's important to note that U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget (which Latham and King voted for last month) also fails to balance the budget in the next decade.

UPDATE: Representative Bruce Braley didn't send out any written comment about the president's budget, but he answered a question about the budget during his weekly press call today (audio here). He started by saying that in a "complex document" like the federal budget, there are things he would like to see implemented and other ideas that "are of grave concern." My transcript, beginning around the 10:10 mark:

I am very concerned about the president's proposal to try to reduce the deficit by switching to a chained CPI calculation, particularly because budgets are moral documents, and they reflect our nation's priorities. I believe it's immoral to balance the budget on the back of seniors and disabled Americans, who are the ones who will be most dramatically affected by switching the consumer price index adjustment for Social Security benefits.

There are a host of other ways we could address that problem, and addressing it in a way that is going to take money out of the hands of Iowans--for example, if this were to become law, and you lived to [be] 85 [years old], you would see a 9.7 percent reduction in what you receive from Social Security over your lifetime. Many Iowans who are seniors and disabled are living on fixed incomes right now. That [chained] CPI does not often reflect the real cost of spending that seniors and disabled Iowans deal with on an annual basis, and so I'm concerned about that.

Braley went on to say that he was "excited" to see the president's budget focus on developing a "national manufacturing strategy" for the 21st century, as well as a "significant investment n infrastructure."

I have not seen any press release from Senator Tom Harkin today about the president's budget, but he is a loud voice against the chained CPI proposal. in the last few days his political action committee TOM-PAC has sent out multiple mass e-mails to supporters decrying the president's Social Security cuts. The latest arrived on April 9:

Dear [first name],

Tomorrow, President Obama will release his budget. We already know what we're likely to see in it: unconscionable cuts to Social Security through a scheme called "chained CPI."

Now is our chance to make a huge statement, and show the President, Congress, and the press that we're not going to stand by while Social Security is gutted.

Join more than 9,300 activists like you and me to demand that the President stand up for Social Security

Social Security is one of our nation's most important programs -- one that, by law, cannot contribute to the deficit. But that hasn't stopped Republicans from trying to use the chained CPI as a way to sneak benefit cuts in under the radar.

Now, in an ill-advised attempt to negotiate with Republican leaders that have no intention of playing fair, President Obama has put those same cuts on the table. We can't let it happen, and we only have a matter of hours to let President Obama know that this is unacceptable.

Social Security is too important to be used as a bargaining chip -- much less a wasted one.

Join more than 9,300 activists like you and me to demand that the President stand up for Social Security.

This is one of the most important issues we're going face in a while. I need you standing with me.

Sincerely,

Senator Tom Harkin

Progress Iowa released the following statement today:

Iowa's Congressional Delegation Should Reject President Obama's Proposed Social Security Cuts

Progress Iowa launches petition calling on all Members of Iowa's Congressional Delegation to Reject the chained CPI and cuts to Social Security

DES MOINES -- Progress Iowa today launched a petition calling on members of Iowa's congressional delegation to reject the cuts to Social Security proposed by President Obama in the budget being released today. The President's proposal would change the way the federal government measures inflation, by switching to a chained consumer price index (chained CPI) and resulting in decreased Social Security benefits.

In addition to launching an online petition, Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic issued the following statement:

"The President's chained CPI proposal is a cut to Social Security -- plain and simple. We need to know where our Members of Congress stand on Social Security, a program at the heart of our country's commitment to ensuring that all of us can retire with dignity."

"The chained CPI is a politician's parlor trick and doesn't adequately factor in the realities facing Iowa seniors. It calculates the cost of living by assuming that seniors can make the choice to buy less expensive products. But because of rising health-care costs, many seniors living on a low, fixed income won't have that choice; instead they will be forced to choose between buying medicine and buying groceries."

"Social Security is not an entitlement, it is an earned benefit we all pay to receive, and is crucial to supporting current and future generations of retirees. Will our elected officials stand up for Iowa's seniors, or will they be fooled by a budget gimmick that does far more harm than good?"

According to a recent AARP policy analysis, using the chained CPI would be detrimental to Social Security beneficiaries, particularly the oldest Americans and disabled children:

"Changing the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) would have a detrimental impact on the economic well being of older and disabled Americans and their family members who receive benefits from Social Security. Small reductions to the annual COLA will accumulate over time so that the largest reductions in benefits will be on the oldest beneficiaries and the long-term disabled. For example, 92-year-old beneficiaries who were on the program for 30 years would see an 8.4% cut in benefits. Disabled children could face even larger benefit cuts over their lifetime. Oldest Americans are the least able to absorb cuts to their benefits as they are more reliant on Social Security for their income and have higher out-of-pocket medical spending and a higher poverty rate than younger Americans."

Protecting Social Security and the Iowans who depend on the income it provides should be of critical importance for all Members of Congress. To view the petition launched by Progress Iowa today, click here or visit: http://signon.org/sign/say-no-...

###

Background:

AARP: Proposed changes to Social Security's Cost-of-Living Adjustment: What Would They Mean for Beneficiaries?
http://www.aarp.org/content/da...

The Chained CPI: A Painful Cut in Social Security Benefits and a Stealth Tax Hike
http://www.cepr.net/documents/...

Statement from Dave Loebsack on the latest Postal Service news:

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement after the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) announced that they would be canceling their plans to end Saturday delivery.

"The announcement by the Postal Service that it has canceled its misguided plan to end Saturday delivery is good news for the people of Iowa. Saturday delivery is important to Iowa's economy, seniors and small businesses.  Now it is time for Congress to do its job and act to give the USPS the tools necessary to avoid this situation in the future.  The USPS would not be in the financial situation it is today if it had not been required to pre-pay retirement funds, which no other agency or business is required to do.  I will continue to push for commonsense legislation that will responsibly restore USPS's fiscal solvency while protecting Iowan's access to postal services "

Loebsack is a cosponsor of legislation, which would address the USPS's financial needs without the upheaval and job loss.  He has urged leadership on multiple occasions to address postal reform as soon as possible and is currently a cosponsor of H. Res. 30, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the UPSP should continue with its 6-day mail delivery service.

Representative Bruce Braley (D, IA-01) comment on the postal delivery news:

Washington, D.C. - Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today released the following statement after the United States Postal Service announced they've cancelled plans to end Saturday delivery this summer:

"I've been a strong advocate for the Postal Service continuing a six day delivery schedule so I'm relieved that they have decided to continue Saturday mail delivery. Iowans have long relied on the post office for quick and dependable mail service, and I'm glad to hear they can continue to depend on that service.

"Their decision to continue Saturday delivery means that the Postal Service understands it must find another way to solve their problems that doesn't place the burden unfairly on small towns and rural Americans.

"Without question, the Postal Service needs to change to survive, but until there is a comprehensive plan in place, we cannot allow thoughtless changes to hurt Iowa businesses and Iowa residents."

UPDATE: The National Republican Congressional Committee's chairman blasted Obama for his budget's "shocking attack on seniors." Any House Democrats who embrace this proposal don't deserve to be re-elected next year.

The NRCC sent out a press release attacking Loebsack today, but that piece focused on continued deficit spending rather than Social Security.

Dreams Do Come True, Dave

More Spending, Higher Taxes, Never Balances: Finally A Budget Dave Loebsack Can Support

WASHINGTON - After a two month wait, President Obama is finally introducing his budget today-and it's exactly the kind of budget Dave Loebsack has been waiting for.

The president's budget will do real harm to Iowa families by raising taxes, increasing spending, and never, ever balancing.  This will hurt job creation and continue the middle class stagnation that has become a hallmark of the Obama-Pelosi era.

"President Obama's budget is a dream come true for Dave Loebsack," said NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek. "By sharing Obama's belief in an unbalanced budget full of more spending and higher taxes, Dave Loebsack is standing in the way of job creation and more take-home pay for middle-class families."

White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer Admitted That President Obama's Budget Will Never Balance. "President Obama will not propose a balanced budget in the new fiscal 2014 spending plan that he'll submit to Congress next week, a White House official said Wednesday. White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said the budget will reduce deficits by an unspecified amount, but it won't achieve balance like the spending plan that has been approved by House Republicans." (Dave Boyer, "Aide: Deficits To Endure In Obama's Planned New Budget," The Washington Times, 4/3/13)

President Obama's Budget Will Include $580 Billion In New Taxes. "The main deficit reduction elements of the plan incorporate an offer Obama made to Boehner in December when both sought to avoid automatic, across-the-board spending cuts and broad tax increases. Obama's plan includes $580 billion in new taxes that Republicans oppose." (Jim Kuhnhenn, "Obama: Budget Not 'Ideal' But Has 'Tough Reforms,'" The Associated Press, 4/6/13)  

The Budget Proposal Would Only Cut $600 Billion From The Deficit. "The White House said the budget would include $1.8 trillion in deficit-reduction measures, but about $1.2 trillion of it will be used to replace the across-the-board spending cuts that began March 1, known as the sequester. That means the deficit would drop just $600 billion more over 10 years than under current law." (Janet Hook And Colleen McCain Nelson, "Obama Budget Draws Fire," The Wall Street Journal, 4/5/13)

President Obama's Budget Proposes More Spending. "Obama also is proposing more spending on some programs, such as education, that the administration argues is important to ensure future economic growth." (Roger Runningen and Heidi Przybyla, "Obama Budget to Include Social Security Debt-Cutting Plan," Bloomberg, 4/5/13)

President Obama's Budget Is Over Two Months Late. "Obama is submitting his budget two months late, after aides scrambled to deal with the end-of-year "fiscal cliff" and then the March 1 deadline for sequestration." (Zachary A. Goldfarb and Karen Tumulty, "Obama Budget Would Cut Entitlements In Exchange For Tax Increases," The Washington Post, 4/5/13)

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