Progressive Activists, Senators Warn: Obama Budget to Propose Lower Social Security Hikes

 WASHINGTON —A progressive activists’ group and the leader of the Senate Social Security caucus are warning that Democratic President Barack Obama’s budget blueprint will call for smaller increases in Social Security benefits.
The budget blueprint would accomplish that, the Campaign for America’s Future and Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vt., add, by basing future cost of living hikes for Social Security recipients on the “chained CPI,” not the regular Consumer Price Index.
If Obama pushes the “chained CPI” as part of a proposed “grand bargain” with the GOP to reduce future federal budget deficits, he’ll alienate key parts of his coalition, break faith with voters and “shatter the Democratic Party,” warns CAF’s Roger Hickey.
In an alert, Hickey wants people to inundate the White House and Congress with e-mails opposing the chained CPI and changes to Medicare and Medicaid.
The chained CPI produces a smaller measure of the prior year’s inflation, used to calculate Social Security benefit hikes.  More than 50 million people now get Social Security and tens of millions rely on it as their prime source of retirement income.
Obama is scheduled to send his budget blueprint to Congress the week of April 8, though lawmakers already approved their own widely varying budget blueprints.  But Obama’s contains more-detailed legislative proposals, including the chained CPI.
That’s what Sanders warned about in debate over the Senate’s budget, in late March. “Let us not balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable,” he said.
“What the chained CPI would do to seniors on Social Security is bad,” Sanders said. “Many of them are living on $13,000, $14,000 or $15,000 a year on Social Security benefits.  The chained CPI would say to them, if you are 65 today, by the time you are 75, your benefits would be cut by some $650 a year.  By the time you are 85, your benefits would be cut by $1,000 a year.
“What this whole debate is about is how do we go forward with deficit reduction in a way which is fair, a way which is moral, and a way which calls for good economic policy.  I would argue when some of the largest corporations in America pay zero in federal income taxes, before we cut Social Security and benefits for disabled veterans, we ask those people to start paying their fair share of taxes.”
“This must be stopped, and we have only a few days to stop it,” Hickey warned.    The “grand bargain” Obama proposes to reach with the GOP on deficits “would bargain away the pillars of the New Deal.”  Hickey calls the grand bargain “a grand swindle.”