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Bowing to seniors, liberals, Obama ditches bitter budget medicine

WASHINGTON — In a bow to politics in Washington and in midterm elections, President Barack Obama will propose a new budget that would increase spending on popular programs and drop a plan to slow the growth of Social Security benefits that had angered his party's base.

Obama's budget, to be unveiled March 4, will urge $56 billion in new spending split between the Pentagon and domestic initiatives such as early childhood education, jobs training and help for manufacturing that are popular to Democratic voters. All would be financed by tax increases or other offsets, making them unlikely to pass Congress but still a ready tool for Democratic candidates to use in congressional elections this fall.

At the same time, Obama will drop from his budget a year-old proposal to trim benefit increases for Social Security recipients and veterans. The offer always was paired with a demand that the wealthy pay higher taxes, but Republicans never agreed to that. Obama was left with no deal with the right, and a left flank angered that he even offered to curb entitlement growth. Instead, the left cheered Thursday and predicted an energized party base heading into the elections.

Republicans criticized both ideas.

"We hope the president submits a budget with real solutions, instead of more spending, higher taxes and dangerous levels of debt," said Kevin Seifert, a spokesman for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

White House aides unveiled the broad brushstrokes of the budget weeks ahead of the formal proposal.

Bowing to seniors, liberals, Obama ditches bitter budget medicine 02/20/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 20, 2014 11:30pm]

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