Last night, the press reported that President Obama will include the “chained CPI” in his budget proposal, which would involve cuts to Social Security and veterans benefits.

This morning, leading Congressional Democrats balked at the proposal, condemning it as a cut to benefits.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA):

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR):

Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), in a statement emailed to us:

“Republicans have been trying to dismantle Social Security ever since President Roosevelt proposed it during the Great Depression. We should not try to bargain for their good will with policies that hurt our seniors, especially since they’ve been unwilling to reduce tax loopholes for millionaires and wealthy corporations by so much as a dime.

“One hundred seven Members of the House of Representatives, a majority of the Democratic Caucus, have already stated our vigorous opposition to cutting Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits. Americans all over the country depend on every single dollar they get from Social Security to put food on the table and pay for housing. Using chained CPI will shift more costs onto already struggling American families, seniors, veterans – including our 3.2 million disabled veterans who also depend on the Social Security calculation for their Veterans Affairs benefits – individuals with disabilities, and children on survivors’ benefits.

“This week, a new study from the New America Foundation finds that proposals to cut Social Security benefits could be disastrous for our economy because the recession has led more seniors to rely to Social Security for income. Cutting benefits now, when people are already struggling to make ends meet, will mean unnecessary hardship for millions of people. It is unpopular, unwise and unworkable.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats, in a statement posted to his website:

Millions of working people, seniors, disabled veterans, those who have lost a loved one in combat, and women will be extremely disappointed if President Obama caves into the long standing Republican effort to cut Social Security and benefits for disabled veterans and their survivors through a so-called chained CPI.  In 2008, candidate Barack Obama told the American people that he would not cut Social Security.  Having him go back on his word will only add to the rampant political cynicism that our country is experiencing today.

If Obama is serious about dealing with our deficit he would not cut Social Security – which has not added one penny to the deficit.  Instead, he would support legislation that ends the absurdity of one out of four profitable corporations paying nothing in federal income taxes.  He would also help us close the offshore tax haven loopholes that enable large corporations and the wealthy to avoid paying $100 billion a year in federal taxes.

Additionally, blogger Howie Klein points out that a number of individuals running for Congress as Democrats have already condemned the plan.

State Senator Daylin Leach (D-PA), running for Congress in Pennsylvania:

“At a time when corporate profits, executive compensation, the stock market and wealth disparity are at near record highs, it is obscene to even consider balancing our budget on the backs of seniors and veterans. I fully supported President Obama’s election, but I can’t support any drift towards corporatism to appease tea-party extremists. If we are really serious about ensuring the solvency of Social Security while preserving benefits well into the future, there is a simple solution. We should raise the cap on income subject to the payroll tax from $110,000 per year to $200,000 per year. This is fair, reasonable, and keeps faith with those who rely on Social Security to survive.”

Nick Ruiz, running for Congress as a Democrat in Florida in a bid to unseat Rep. John Mica (R):

There is a sinister trick to rob citizens of retirement security, which is being promulgated as sound policy in this discussion. Let’s reveal it. Congress and the President have continued to stifle wages and reduce job opportunities for citizens, and now suggest that upon retirement or disablement, people should receive less. Why? By all measures, the economy needs more jobs, and citizens need higher wages, with more robust retirement and disablement assistance. So, reducing any of these things, will make people suffer.

“But the Congress is not suffering. Nor is the President. Nor is the Fortune 500 that bankroll fake populist political campaigns and wealth-biased policy think tanks. Thus, it’s plain to see. This President and Congress, enabled by the wealthy and their enterprises– aim to make Americans suffer. There are many selfish reasons why they would do this, that are probably beyond the scope of a conversation about cutting benefits with the chained CPI trick– but it starts with the basic premise that the world economy will not grow for the foreseeable future. With smaller net margins expected, the capital stream is being tightened to preserve their wealth and nothing else.

“The important thing to recognize is that these hateful agendas that will further decimate average living standards will not stop– unless progressives stop them.”

The PCCC is preparing to push back against this cut to Social Security benefits, but we need to hear from you. Can you please help by sharing your thoughts about the president and cuts to Social Security benefits?


Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN):


Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA):


Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY):