Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), chairman of the House Republicans’ campaign arm, attacked the Social Security benefit cut proposals in President Obama’s budget Wednesday — breaking with the rest of the GOP leadership. As House Speaker John Boehner, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell embraced the chained CPI provisions, Walden called them a “shocking attack on seniors.”
Walden told CNN:
I’ll tell you, when you’re going after seniors the way he’s already done on Obamacare, taking $700 billion out of Medicare to put into Obamacare and now coming back at seniors again, I think you’re crossing that line very quickly here, in terms of denying access to seniors for health care in districts like mine certainly and around the country. I think he’s going to have a lot of pushback from some of the major senior organizations on this and Republicans as well.
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Though prominent conservatives were quick to pounce on Walden, his spokesman stood by the comments. He told Politico that even though the rest of the GOP leadership disgagrees, Walden “believes it’s wrong to cut benefits for seniors to pay for more wasteful spending.”
Though outside groups spent millions in the 2012 campaign repeating the false claim, the accusation that Obamacare somehow stole $716 billion from Medicare has been widely debunked. What’s more, the Paul Ryan House Republican budget — which Walden supports — relies on the same savings.
While there are legitimate reasons to worry about the chained CPI proposals, Walden’s desire to protect Social Security seems new-found. In 2005, when President George W. Bush proposed a risky privatization scheme in his State of the Union address, Walden raised no objections and praised speech as a “bold agenda, proposing solutions to some of American’s most difficult problems.” Seven years before, Walden told Project Vote Smart he supported a plan to “invest Social Security’s assets collectively in stocks and bonds instead of U.S. Treasury securities.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney added on Thursday that chained CPI in Obama’s budget “comes at the specific request of behest of Republican leaders.”