Pelosi's dilemma: How to reach a Democratic consensus on entitlements?

First, she wants to keep a united front in the high-stakes budget battle with Obama, who has backed a less generous formula for inflationary adjustments to Social Security benefits in exchange for more tax revenue from Republicans.

Second, she wants to defend the views of her caucus, who largely oppose any change in the formula for calculating those benefits, particularly since it could hurt poor seniors who rely on Social Security for their everyday needs.

Third, she’s hoping to cultivate the image of Democrats as the more reasonable negotiators in the debate, the party willing to sacrifice in the name of deficit reduction and bipartisan compromise. Members of her caucus acknowledge it’s not an easy job to juggle the three.

“It puts her in a difficult situation,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said Friday.

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