It’s rare for me to criticize President Obama.Posted: April 5, 2013
I believe he is one of the best Presidents of my lifetime. But he famously said he wants us to “hold his feet to the fire” when we think he is wrong. And boy, is he wrong on this one.
Democrats invented Social Security. Democrats have defended it against Republican attacks for more than 80 years. Democrats should not be the ones to bring it down.
Obama’s new budget will propose a new inflation formula that would reduce cost-of-living payments for Social Security benefits. The idea, known as “chained CPI,” has infuriated Democrats and advocacy groups, and they have already mobilized in opposition.
Currently, Social Security calculates benefit amounts by using the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation by looking at the increase or decrease of the costs of consumer goods. It’s a pretty standard measure. Obama’s budget, however, wants instead to use a “chained” Consumer Price Index, which tweaks this measurement in a unique way. The logic goes like this: when the price of beef goes up, shoppers buy chicken instead. A “true” calculation of the cost of living, the logic continues, should account for the fact that real shoppers are buying cheaper items and basing their calculation on that instead.
Logical? Maybe, except that most seniors and Social Security recipients spend their benefit dollars on things that THERE ARE NO CHEAPER ALTERNATIVES FOR. Health care and prescriptions, for example.
From former Labor Secretary Robert Reich:
Social Security is not driving the deficit, therefore it should not be part of reforms aimed at cutting the deficit. The chained CPI, deceptively portrayed as a reasonable cost of living adjustment, is a cut to Social Security benefits that would hurt seniors.
There are several sensible reforms to Social Security that should be considered to help make it sustainable, including lifting the ceiling on income subject to Social Security from $113,700 to $200,000 or more, as well as instituting a 1% raise in the payroll tax rate, a rate that hasn’t changed in over 20 years.
Both of these reforms would go a long way toward protecting the long-term health of Social Security, but neither should not be conflated with efforts to reduce the federal budget deficit.
Even Saint Ronnie Reagan agreed. You could cut Social Security all you want. You could even end Social Security altogether. And it wouldn’t reduce the budget deficit by a single penny. Social Security is a completely self-funded, self-contained program – and it’s sitting on a surplus of over $2.6 trillion.
That’s why I signed a petition to President Barack Obama, which says:
“Mr. President, the chained CPI is a cut to Social Security benefits that would hurt seniors–it’s an idea not befitting a Democratic president. If you want to reform Social Security, make the wealthy pay their fair share by lifting the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes.”
Sign this petition. This budget is patently ridiculous, and what’s worse it hurts the most vulnerable among us.