President Obama has agreed to a fiscal deal that enacts a so-called “Chained CPI” to calculate Social Security and veterans’ benefits. Under this plan, beneficiaries would get cuts in their cost of living adjustments. Last night, a defiant Congressional Progressive Caucus — with 75 Members in the House — vowed to vote against such a deal, calling it a definite “benefit cut.”
It’s important to remember that leading House Democrats — Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and Vice Caucus Chair Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) — actually denounced chained CPI in 2011 during an event on June 22 in HVC Studio A of the Capitol Visitors Center.
Becerra [Federal News Service, 6/22/11]:
So at a time when seniors are depending more and more on Social Security, at a time that their basic income goes primarily towards basic needs, the COLA change through the chain CPI would take away more of their Social Security benefits. And so it’s not only a backdoor way to make cuts to Social Security, it’s an underhanded way to make cuts to Social Security. And when you put it in the context of deficit reduction, when Social Security has contributed not a dime to the deficit, it’s unconscionable. And so we’re here to say, hands off of everyone’s Social Security. Let’s strengthen it, not privatize it.
Crowley [Federal News Service, 6/22/11]:
I hear about it every day when I’m home from the seniors and veterans that I represent. And now, we’re seeing a push by some in Washington to put a permanent cut on any possible future cost-of- living increase for Social Security and veterans’ benefits through an only-in-Washington idea known as chained CPI. This should — more accurately called the “chainsaw” CPI. Now, this may all sound like funny math, but there is nothing humorous about cutting benefits for seniors and our veterans. If this chainsaw CPI law was in place today, current Social Security benefits would see the cut in their monthly check grow bigger and bigger.
These Democrats should stick by their words and reject this bad deal.
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