On Wednesday, the White House released some early details of the president's 2015 budget proposal, which is due out next month. The biggest news is that the budget will propose $56 billion in new spending, while dropping a key compromise that would result in smaller Social Security benefits. The latter idea, known as "chained CPI," would alter how the government calculates benefits increases for social welfare programs, and it's generally opposed by liberals. (You can read our more thorough explainer on chained CPI here.)
That might sound like an insignificant bit of wonky gibberish, but it's actually a sharp reversal. Obama proposed chained CPI in his budget last year, hoping it would convince Republicans to compromise on revenue increases. It was an attempt at striking that mythical "grand bargain" Obama and congressional Republicans have been talking about for years. But Republicans vehemently opposed any new tax revenue, and now Obama is no longer even offering the chained CPI carrot.
"Unfortunately, Republicans refused to even consider the possibility of raising some revenue,"said Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman. "That is an unfortunate policy choice that Republicans themselves have made."
To be sure, White House budget proposals are largely symbolic documents that outline a president's ideal budget, not the budget that will actually be passed by Congress. But by yanking a GOP-friendly proposal from the outset, Obama has made clear that negotiating with Republicans is a hopeless cause.
The good news is now President Obama doesn't have to offer anything to the GOP in order to be called a fascist tyrant, so it's a bit of a time-saver.