Merkley: The President’s Budget Has Strengths and Weaknesses

 Washington, DC – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after President Obama sent his 2014 budget request to Congress: 

“This budget has both strengths and weaknesses. 

“A strength is its investment in infrastructure and education. The president is right to emphasize rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure now when borrowing costs are low and construction can put a lot of people to work. The president is also on the right track in proposing investment in early childhood education and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. We must do more, however, to support k-12 education and to make college more affordable. 

“Over the last 15 years we have lost 5 million manufacturing jobs and more than 40,000 factories in America. We must reverse that trend – if we don’t make things in America, we won’t have a middle class in America. That is why I am glad the President has proposed creating manufacturing innovation institutes to create private and public sector partnerships to bring manufacturing jobs to parts of the country that have suffered these job losses. 

“However, I strongly disagree with the idea of applying the so-called ‘chained CPI’ to Social Security. ‘Chained CPI’ is DC-speak for cutting the hard-earned benefits for seniors who have worked their whole lives. There’s a view among some in Washington that we have been too generous to our seniors. They are dead wrong. Seniors receive an average of $1,200 a month from Social Security.  For more than half of our seniors Social Security constitutes a majority of their income.  We should be using a cost-of-living index that accurately reflects the real costs seniors face, not cutting cost-of-living adjustments that are already too low.”