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Obama budget changes Social Security: Are Republicans on board?

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“At least he put something here that shows a willingness to address entitlements,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin. “That shows me that there’s a glimmer of hope to getting to an agreement at the end of the day, but we’re a long way from getting there right now.”

There has been hope that the need to raise the debt ceiling this summer could provide the opportunity to knit together fiscal issues ranging from entitlement and tax reform to revising the "sequester" cuts in a long-sought "grand bargain" to fix to the nation’s finances.

Mr. Obama's budget "keeps alive the possibility of a bargain, grand or otherwise," said Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition.

Primarily, Obama proposes changing the way Social Security calculates cost-of-living adjustments – a revision that would save the program money but, critics say, put a greater burden on the poor and elderly. He also suggested some trims to Medicare.

Conservative lawmakers in both chambers offered measured praise for the president Wednesday.

“I am encouraged, however, by the president’s willingness to begin addressing Medicare and Social Security – the primary drivers of our national debt,” said Sen. Deb Fischer (R) of Nebraska, a freshman lawmaker. “I hope to work with the president to reform and save these critical programs.”

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