President Barack Obama's 2014 budget landed with a thud on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
The plan includes a provision that reduces future deficits by slowing the rate Social Security benefits grow over time. Reaction to the proposal, known as "chained CPI," was mixed in Minnesota's congressional delegation.
"Betrayal" might be too strong a word, but Obama's proposal upset many Democrats, including Sen. Al Franken.
"I'm disappointed that so many of us were saying this isn't the way to go that he did this," Franken said.
Obama's proposal would change how inflation is calculated for future cost of living increases.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated last month those changes would reduce the deficit by more than $300 billion over the next decade.
Many liberals argue the changes would amount to a benefit cut because they would slow the growth of future Social Security payments.
The lobbying to stop chained CPI is already underway on Capitol Hill. Groups such as the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare are urging their supporters to flood Congress with phone calls in opposition.
Part of the outrage about chained CPI has to do with the pride Democrats have in creating the modern social safety net of Social Security in the 1930s and Medicare in the 1960s, 8th District Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan said.
"They've been two of the best things we've ever done in this country to lift people out of poverty and extend their lives," Nolan said.
Obama made the offer in the context of wider negotiations with Republicans to close the federal government's long-term budget gaps. Republican leaders have been calling on the president to accept chained CPI and cuts to Medicare.
But Minneapolis Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, a leader among House liberals, believes it is unlikely Republicans can actually accept any offer that Obama makes.
"I think that he thinks by signaling to the conservative end of the political spectrum that he's giving up something and some of the folks in his coalition don't like it and that might induce them to come his way," Ellison said. "Well, that has not worked."
Ellison and Nolan are among more than 100 House Democrats who have told Obama they will not vote for any legislation that includes chained CPI.
But not every member has been so explicit about ruling it out.
In a statement, DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she would only consider changes to Social Security if they protect the oldest and poorest retirees and are in the context of a large-scale plan to reduce the deficit that includes tax increases.
Tax increases are also part of Obama's budget, much to Republicans' displeasure.
"Yeah, I think it is a tough sell," said 3rd District Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen, regarding whether Republicans would sign on to the president's budget.
Paulsen said the GOP reluctantly swallowed a tax increase at the beginning of the year and will not support another one.
While he has not yet read the budget proposal, Paulsen did praise Obama for putting Social Security on the negotiating table.
"I'll look at the details in the budget proposal, but I think it's helpful he's making proposals, absolutely," Paulsen said.
Not all Republicans were so charitable. In a statement, 2nd District Rep. John Kline said Obama had offered "no new ideas" to fix the country's problems.
Nolan argues that Obama's offer has played into Republican hands. He notes that Republicans opposed the creation of both Social Security and Medicare but that they have generally avoided offering direct cuts to the politically popular programs. Now the GOP has gotten Obama to endorse a cut, Nolan says he's reminded of what deer in the north woods do.
"The old bucks like to stay back in the woods and send the naive young fawns out into the fields to make sure it's safe before they go out," Nolan said. "And the Republicans are almost like the old bucks, telling Obama, 'go on out there and see how this works.'"