WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the leader of the Democrats on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, said on Friday he does not expect “Chained CPI” cost of living cuts for Social Security to be in President Barack Obama’s next budget.
“It is my understanding that the Chained CPI (Consumer Price Index) will not be in the president’s budget,” Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, told a news conference in which he promised to take a strong line against any proposed cuts in social programs from Republicans.
The White House has said Obama will submit his budget on Feb. 2 for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2016. The president will also lay out his policy priorities in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20.
Some lawmakers have advocated cutting the cost of the Social Security retirement program by adopting “Chained CPI,” a less-generous gauge of inflation that is opposed by many Democrats.
Obama proposed adopting the system in the budget he submitted two years ago, despite the opposition of many liberals.
Sanders, who is contemplating a run for the presidency in 2016, said U.S. middle class incomes are declining while the wealthiest Americans and corporations are getting richer.
Laying out an agenda likely to lead to clashes with the Senate’s majority Republicans, he added that any “serious” fiscal proposals should cut tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, prevent massive cost overruns by defense contractors and raise the minimum wage.
“When we look at America, we have to understand that we have an obscene level of income and wealth inequality,” Sanders said.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Doina Chiacu