Republicans are lightening up on their criticism of President Obama’s budget proposal and embracing his offer to trim Social Security benefits – an important shift in the budget battle as lawmakers move toward entitlement reform talks. Two House subcommittees will hold hearings this week to discuss changes to entitlements included in Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget, including chained CPI, which applies a less generous inflation measure to annual Social Security benefits, as well as raising Medicare premiums, reducing benefits for well-off seniors and increasing the Medicare eligibility age.
Of course, entitlement reform is anything but a sure thing. Democrats are furious with Obama for proposing to touch Social Security, while Republicans are skeptical that his proposal will include more tax hikes. - Read more at The Washington Post
ON THE DOCKET: BUDGET BLITZ Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will testify this morning on Capitol Hill on President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget at a House Budget Committee hearing starting at 10 a.m. After an anticipated grilling from Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), Lew will head to the other side of the Capitol for the Senate’s Budget Committee hearing at 3 p.m. – See the House Budget Committee Agenda here
‘GANG OF EIGHT’ TO UNVEIL IMMIGRATION PLAN A bipartisan group of eight senators is expected to releasethe most ambitious attempt at overhauling the nation’s immigration laws in nearly three decades. The plan calls for billions of dollars in additional funding for border security, including $3 billion for surveillance drones, and $1.5 billion for security fencing. The plan also adds an additional 3,500 border patrol agents.
An earlier report from The Fiscal Times shows increased spending on border security has not yielded more apprehensions, however. Last year, the Obama administration spent $18 billion on border security and increased border patrol agents. Still, apprehensions dropped to a 40-year low. Currently, there is no metric in place to determine the safety of the borders, as Department of Homeland Security officials revealed at a congressional hearing last month. The new proposal requires DHS to better assess the effectiveness of security along the nation’s borders and holds the agency accountable for apprehending 90 percent of undocumented immigrants crossing the border in high-risk areas, where 30,000 or more people are caught each year. - See the details of the bill here The Washington Post
FED GOV APPROVAL AT ALL-TIME LOW A new Pew Research Center poll shows more Americans than ever have a negative view of the federal government. Just 28 percent of respondents expressed a favorable view of the federal government, down five points from last year, and 54 points below their high of 82 percent in 2001. On the other hand, support for state and governments increased to 57 percent, up five points from last year. - See the poll here
IRS GIVES STORM VICTIMS A BREAK The Internal Revenue Service will waive late-filing penalties for taxpayers who were affected by the severe storms in the South and Midwest over the past few days, since power outages and transportation problems have made it difficult or impossible to meet the April 15 filing deadline.