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Democrats Surprised by Obama Move on Social Security

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For example, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), a Member of the Democratic leadership team, reiterated Thursday that she “strongly supports Social Security and Medicare” and will have to “wait and see” what the White House comes up with. In remarks that summed up where most Senators find themselves heading into the final stretch of deficit talks, Stabenow continued, “We’ll have to see what the substance is first, I have no idea what they’re going to suggest. ... I have made no commitment to just support whatever they come up with. At this point it’s all conjecture.”

Senate aides were unclear as the White House meeting with the top eight Congressional leaders began how serious Obama’s push for Social Security reform will be — whether it’s a legitimate ask or one of several trial balloons White House officials might float in the days ahead.

But one thing is clear: at the end of the day, this likely won’t come down to needing consensus among the Democratic party, but rather finding a deal that can clear a conservative-leaning House and a mixed Senate.

“There 53 members of our Caucus and probably 53 different views on Social Security, but I really think the only thing that matters is what the deal looks like and what can pass the House,” said one Senate aide, who said it was difficult to predict how Social Security might fit into a larger plan. “This is a negotiation between Obama and[Speaker John] Boehner.”

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