Political Animal


February 17, 2013 11:01 AM In first Sunday morning talk rounds, McDonough doesn’t champion chained CPI

By Samuel Knight

New White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough did the Sunday talk show rounds this morning.

While on on ABC’s “This Week,” he was questioned about John Boehner’s assertion that President Obama lacks “the guts…to take on the liberal side of his own party” in budget negotiations.

McDonough responded with talking points, stressing that the White House will strengthen the middle class and the economy while seeking to pay back debt “in a balanced way.”

White on NBC’s “Meet The Press” he issued similar responses to David Gregory’s questions on the same issue, saying that President Obama would not seek to reduce government investments and weaken programs that help middle class families at a time when the economy is improving but still fragile. He also indicated that President Obama would not isolate Congressional Democrats that want to raise taxes on the wealthy, reiterating the President’s insistence on doing debt reduction “in a balanced way.”

In terms of the social safety net, McDonough told Gregory that the President wouldn’t seek to raise the retirement age, calling it a “cost shifter.” He said that Affordable Care Act plans to rein in Medicare spending will lead to the sort of outlay reductions sought by Simpson-Bowles.

But more importantly than what he said is what he didn’t say: that the President, according to a Jay Carney press conference earlier this week, “remains open to the chained CPI” as part of social security reform.

That McDonough wasn’t instructed to discuss the chained CPI indicates that either the White House isn’t actually keen on it, or that it simply isn’t eager to brag about its openness to the idea.

According to a report that was in The Hill a few days ago, Democrats in Congress will push back on any such proposal.

Chained CPI “is a benefit cut” that would “cause real pain” to seniors and retirees, [Rep. Jan] Schakowsky said Thursday.
She said Congress should instead reduce the deficit by cutting Medicare’s price for prescription drugs and reviving the public health insurance plan that caused so much controversy during the healthcare debate of 2009 and 2010.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I did not watch McDonough’s “Face The Nation” appearance, because I do not have DVR and CBS aired the interview at the same time as NBC airs “Meet the Press in Washington. But according to this NRO post with a focus on immigraiton reform, it doesn’t appear that McDonough generally deviated from the statements he made on the other shows. I will update this post if I find out otherwise.

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.


  • bobatkinson on February 17, 2013 1:24 PM:

    Senator Mark Begich has resubmitted his SS rescue bill to the Senate in conjunction with a Democratic Representative from Florida. It would remove the cap from SS payroll deductions and connect the chained CPI idea to only the inflation on medical supplies, treatments, drug costs etc. actually incurred by senior citizens rather than inflation in the broader population. Sounds like a worthwhile proposal to put out there and I hope Harry Reid will give it a serious chance to succeed.

  • c u n d gulag on February 17, 2013 2:19 PM:

    You want to boost the economy and get younger people into the work force?

    Eliminate the cap from SS, raise the monthly SS payments, while at the same time lowering the age of eligibility for that and Medicare to 55 - or 60.*

    *Truth in advertising - I'll be 55 in less than 2 weeks!

  • JackD on February 17, 2013 2:19 PM:

    I don't understand why it is asserted that retired people are only affected by inflation in medical costs. They also eat food and use gasoline for their automobiles just as does everyone else. Those are currently the major components of inflation.

  • jjm on February 17, 2013 2:23 PM:

    Thanks, bobatkinson on February 17, 2013 1:24 PM. Sounds like an excellent, well balanced proposal. And removing the antiquated SS cap is long overdue.

  • EriktheRed on February 17, 2013 2:33 PM:

    No DVR?

    Well, we used to use these devices called "VCRs", which I'm sure one could find at a very affordable price nowadays.

    I don't have DVR either and I've found my combination DVD/VCR player to come in quite handy.

  • thebewilderness on February 17, 2013 2:57 PM:

    The question of the day, every effing day, for the corporate media millionaires is why oh why doesn't the POTUS align himself with the right wing people who have proven to be wrong about everything to "take on" the left wing people who have proven to be right.
    Criminy! They really are appalling.

  • Joe Friday on February 17, 2013 3:28 PM:

    The interview ABC's Jonathan Karl did with Denis McDonough was one of the most ridiculous I've seen in a while. He kept going on and on about why hasn't the White House consulted with Rubio, and Rubio slammed the leaked immigration plan.

    They have this all ass backwards.

    They act like Obama needs Rubio to get immigration legislation, and even Speaker LeRoy later claimed Obama needs to have a plan that can pass the House.


    Rubio and the Republicans NEED a plan that Obama will sign. The American people, PARTICULARLY THE LATINOS, agree with Obama. If the Republicans can't come up with a plan Obama will sign, the Republicans are SCREWED.

  • FlipYrWhig on February 17, 2013 4:26 PM:

    Chained CPI in isolation from any other changes in Social Security would be harmful. But including chained CPI in conjunction with other reforms, for instance a guaranteed minimum benefit, would not hit the wallets of anyone who can't afford it. From a social-justice and progressive perspective, the current setup for Social Security--by which your benefits are linked to your lifetime wages--is suboptimal, don't you think? I don't like when otherwise commendable wishes to protect vulnerable seniors provide cover for well-off seniors.

  • Russell Sadler on February 17, 2013 5:37 PM:

    Chained CPI = Koch COLA