House Democratic Caucus Head: No Cuts to Social Security

Rep. Xavier Becerra
Rep. Xavier Becerra

Rep. Becerra to Obama, Democratic leaders: Don’t mess with Social Security

By Mike Lillis – 01/10/13 02:34 PM ET

Breaking with the White House and other Democratic leaders, the head of the House Democratic Caucus suggested this week that he’ll oppose any budget package that includes Social Security cuts.

Both President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have signaled a willingness to support a move to index future Social Security updates to the so-called chained consumer price index (CPI), which would reduce projected benefits over the long term.

But Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said that he’s not ready to back such a change, even as part of a much larger budget package.

“We know Republicans are interested in cutting Social Security and Medicare, [and] perhaps there are some [Democrats] who would say, ‘If that’s what it takes to reach a big deal, we’ll do that,’ ” Becerra said Thursday in an interview with C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program. “I’m not yet convinced that simply because Republicans want to cut Social Security and Medicare, even though there’s no justification for doing it …  that we should do that.”

Pelosi raised eyebrows last month when she defended Obama’s support of the chained CPI as part of a broad “fiscal-cliff” deal. Although the provision was not included in the final agreement, liberal critics were irate that top Democrats were ready to accept some Social Security cuts as part of the package.

Becerra, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, was quick this week to praise Pelosi for her work in searching for a long-term strategy to rein in deficit spending. But he warned that he’s ready to break with her and other party leaders on the Social Security issue as the deficit talks progress.