In first Sunday morning talk rounds, McDonough doesn’t champion chained CPI

New White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough did the Sunday talk show rounds this morning.

While on on ABC’s “This Week,” he was questioned about John Boehner’s assertion that President Obama lacks “the guts…to take on the liberal side of his own party” in budget negotiations.

McDonough responded with talking points, stressing that the White House will strengthen the middle class and the economy while seeking to pay back debt “in a balanced way.”

White on NBC’s “Meet The Press” he issued similar responses to David Gregory’s questions on the same issue, saying that President Obama would not seek to reduce government investments and weaken programs that help middle class families at a time when the economy is improving but still fragile. He also indicated that President Obama would not isolate Congressional Democrats that want to raise taxes on the wealthy, reiterating the President’s insistence on doing debt reduction “in a balanced way.”

In terms of the social safety net, McDonough told Gregory that the President wouldn’t seek to raise the retirement age, calling it a “cost shifter.” He said that Affordable Care Act plans to rein in Medicare spending will lead to the sort of outlay reductions sought by Simpson-Bowles.

But more importantly than what he said is what he didn’t say: that the President, according to a Jay Carney press conference earlier this week, “remains open to the chained CPI” as part of social security reform.

That McDonough wasn’t instructed to discuss the chained CPI indicates that either the White House isn’t actually keen on it, or that it simply isn’t eager to brag about its openness to the idea.

According to a report that was in The Hill a few days ago, Democrats in Congress will push back on any such proposal.

Chained CPI “is a benefit cut” that would “cause real pain” to seniors and retirees, [Rep. Jan] Schakowsky said Thursday.

She said Congress should instead reduce the deficit by cutting Medicare’s price for prescription drugs and reviving the public health insurance plan that caused so much controversy during the healthcare debate of 2009 and 2010.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I did not watch McDonough’s “Face The Nation” appearance, because I do not have DVR and CBS aired the interview at the same time as NBC airs “Meet the Press in Washington. But according to this NRO post with a focus on immigraiton reform, it doesn’t appear that McDonough generally deviated from the statements he made on the other shows. I will update this post if I find out otherwise.

Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.