Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Donna Edwards (D-MD) and John Conyers (D-MI), sent a letter to President Obama today requesting a meeting on the inclusion of chained CPI in his fiscal year 2014 budget proposal.
“We appreciate your ongoing efforts to negotiate with Congressional Republicans in a serious, thoughtful manner, despite their unwillingness to consider a balanced approach,” the authors write. “However, at a time when many Americans are still struggling, cutting Social Security benefits would take money directly out of the pockets of American seniors and slow our economic recovery.”
Reps. Ellison, Grijalva, Schakowsky, Edwards and Conyers recently led a letter signed by 107 members of the House Democratic Caucus opposing any proposals that cut the Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits millions of Americans have earned. That letter highlighted the fact that more than 9.3 million veterans will see benefit cuts if chained CPI goes into effect, and that chained CPI is a less accurate measure of inflation for seniors.
“Cutting Social Security benefits and increasing Medicare costs will harm seniors, especially since health care costs have already skyrocketed for them,” Grijalva and Ellison said. “President Obama’s budget contains a lot of good ideas, but chained CPI will hurt seniors, veterans and children on survivor benefits. The president needs to hear their stories too, and that’s why we’re requesting this meeting.”
The House signatories of today’s letter are co-sponsors of a resolution from Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) expressing the sense of Congress that chained CPI should not be used to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security benefits. Sen. Sanders co-sponsors a similar resolution from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) in the Senate.
The text of the letter is below.
April 25, 2013
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
We write to request a meeting with you to discuss the inclusion of chained CPI in your recent budget proposal.
We appreciate your ongoing efforts to negotiate with Congressional Republicans in a serious, thoughtful manner, despite their unwillingness to consider a balanced approach. We also appreciate the many positive proposals in your budget, including much-needed additional revenue and the call for universal preschool. However, at a time when many Americans are still struggling, cutting Social Security benefits would take money directly out of the pockets of American seniors and slow our economic recovery.
Even with protections for certain groups, the proposed cuts will harm struggling seniors, veterans and families across the country. More than 9.3 million veterans, who make up 1 in 5 Social Security recipients, will be hurt by cuts to Social Security. This is why a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives and many Democratic Senators have expressed their vigorous opposition to cuts to earned benefit programs.
Chained CPI is not justified as a more accurate measure of inflation for Social Security recipients, as even supporters of chained CPI acknowledge. According to Bob Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, chained CPI “may well be less accurate for elderly individuals and many low-income people and, thus, understate the inflation that they face.”
Republicans have a long history of seeking to privatize and diminish these programs. The American people, on the other hand, overwhelmingly want to protect Social Security and to have the wealthiest individuals and corporations pay their fair share.
We would be happy to discuss proposals to strengthen Social Security, such as lifting the payroll tax cap to allow wealthy Americans to contribute to Social Security on all of their income like everyone else. We look forward to meeting with you at your earliest convenience.
# # #