Obama Drops His Deficit-Cutting Offer to Republicans in FY 2015 Budget

By Susan Jones | February 21, 2014 | 6:13 AM EST

Copies of President Barack Obama's budget plan for fiscal year 2014 are prepared for delivery at the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington on April 8, 2013.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama's offer to trim cost-of-living increases for Social Security and other entitlement beneficiaries "remains on the table," even if it doesn't appear in his fiscal 2015 budget proposal, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Thursday.

The offer to change the formula for entitlement spending did appear in Obama's fiscal 2014 budget. At the time, the president called it a "compromise" that showed his willingness to meet Republicans "more than halfway."

So what changed? a reporter asked White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday. Earnest blamed Republicans:

"The president is not going to be in a position where he's going to ask senior citizens and middle-class families to make sacrifices in pursuit of reducing the deficit and not ask the wealthy and well-connected to make some sacrifices too; that it's just not fair and it's not good policy.

"So if Republicans -- and Republicans thus far have refused to even consider closing a loophole that would cost a corporation or a wealthy individual one penny; that the second you bring up the prospect of closing tax loopholes, Republicans want to walk away. And why they think that it's good policymaking to ask senior citizens and veterans and middle-class families to make sacrifices but say that corporations and wealthy individuals and well-connected individuals shouldn't have to bear any of that responsibility or make any of those sacrifices, it doesn't make sense.

"It's not fair, and it's not good policy. So that's why the president has insisted that if we're going to ask seniors and others to make sacrifices by changing entitlement programs, then we're also going to ask corporations and well-connected individuals to give up some of their tax loopholes."

Earnest said the president's fiscal 2015 budget -- to be released in a few weeks -- foresees the budget deficit dropping to "less than 2 percent of GDP" in ten years, which is on target with the deficit reduction goal set by the Simpson-Bowles commission.( But the Congressional Budget Office expects the deficit to be about 4 percent of GDP in ten years.)

"So we've made substantial progress in reducing the deficit. We welcome opportunities to cooperate further and reduce the deficit further with Republicans, but the president also believes it's important that we start spending some time focusing on what kinds of policies we can put in place that will expand economic opportunity for every American."

Earnest said the president's fiscal 2015 budget proposal will reflect the Ryan-Murray spending levels, a reference to the budget blueprint recently passed by Congress.

"So with this return to regular order in Congress, we're seeing a return to regular order in terms of the president's budget offering. But it does not reflect any reduction in the president's willingness to try to meet Republicans in the middle and find a balanced way to reduce our deficit even further than we already have."