President Barack Obama, yielding to pressure from his political base, has backed off a proposal to reform Social Security retirement benefits in a high-stakes deficits deal Congress needs to reach this year.
The Democratic president upset many core supporters in July when he considered changing how the popular pension funds are linked to inflation during acrimonious negotiations with Republicans over raising the U.S. debt ceiling.
Obama saw the change as a way to ensure the federal program remains viable for future generations, but liberals felt he was giving up too much ground to Republicans.
White House spokesman Amy Brundage said Obama's suggestions on how Congress can get to a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction target, to be unveiled on Monday, "will not include any changes to Social Security."
A senior administration official said his proposals to 12-member congressional panel tasked with finding the savings by November 23, were still being finalized.
But they are expected to total as much as $3 trillion over 10 years and include tweaks to Medicare and Medicaid, the government's healthcare programs for the elderly and for the poor, and tax changes to close more loopholes for wealthy Americans and companies.
Obama's recommendations will not be binding on the "super committee" of six Republicans and six Democrats, but may influence the tone of the negotiations and will play into the 2012 election campaign rhetoric.
His shift in stance means the Democratic members of the super committee charged with tackling the federal deficit would not have to make immediate concessions in negotiations with their Republican counterparts...
Obama backs away from Social Security in deficits plan
Laura MacInnis and Thomas Ferraro | Reuters