Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other liberals in Congress are ratcheting up pressure on President Obama to back away from a proposal to curb the growth of Social Security benefits.
Sanders and other liberals are concerned Obama may strike a deficit-reduction deal with Republicans that would reduce Social Security benefits by adopting a less generous way of adjusting benefits for inflation.
Obama has previously said he would consider using a formula known as chain-Consumer Price Index that would lower the growth of entitlements by slowing benefit increases for inflation.
Sanders and other liberals are worried Obama will renew that offer in new deficit-reduction talks. Obama had dinner with 12 Senate Republicans Wednesday evening to discuss the path forward on a grand bargain to reduce the deficit, and senators in attendance said entitlements were discussed.
I think for a lot of us on the outside looking in it may seem reasonable for the President to offer cuts to some of the social programs in exchange for tax increases, but as Bernie Sanders explains it this conversation should NOT include Social Security:
“Social Security is facing an unprecedented attack from those who either want to privatize it completely or who want to make substantial cuts,” said Sanders at a press conference. “The argument being used to cut Social Security is that because we have a significant deficit problem and a $16.6 trillion national debt, we just can’t afford to maintain Social Security benefits.
“This argument is false. Social Security, because it is funded by the payroll tax, not the U.S. Treasury, has not contributed one nickel to our deficit,” he said.
Sanders estimates switching to a chained-CPI formula for determining benefits for Social Security would result in the average 65 year old living on about $15,000 a year receiving $650 less each year when they turn 75 and $1,000 less a year when they turn 85.
Since the program adds nothing to the debt than by all rights it should be left out of ANY negotiations that we have to reduce that debt. Right?
I often find myself cautious when criticizing the President since it has become obvious time and time again that he is playing a long game, and that makes it hard to see the eventual outcome of his strategy.
However I remember that after that dinner the Obama treated some Senate Republicans to, reports were that they were surprised to learn that the President HAD offered chained CPI's, which validates the concerns of these Liberals.
I want to trust my President but this really bothers me. So I certainly hope that he has some plan for protecting Social Security, and that this is simply another feint designed to pull the Republicans off balance while he negotiates a much better deal before they can figure out what he is up to.