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The White House has gone to great lengths to stress one thing in response to the backlash against the unforced error of throwing Social Security into the fiscal cliff curb: They'll just reduce benefits for some people on Social Security, not all of them. Here's what Greg Sargent heard from the White House.
However, according to an official familiar with the talks, the White House continues to insist on various ways of softening the blow of “chained CPI” that are supported by progressive economists, though the details are still unclear.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insists that President Obama's proposal "would protect vulnerable communities including the very elderly when it comes to Social Security recipients."

This does some pretty damaging things, at the outset. First, it pits certain Social Security recipients against others. People on Supplemental Security Income, a program from the disabled, are protected from cuts in benefits, but what about people on Social Security Disability? A 70-year-old won't be protected from the cuts, but an 80-year-old will be? And what about the point that digby makes, as usual brilliantly, that "a vast number of the elderly are barely getting by already." Most of the people on Social Security are exceedingly vulnerable. From AARP:

Social Security Is the Principal Source of Family Income for Nearly Half of Older Americans. Twenty-four percent of those aged 65 and over live in families that depend on Social Security benefits for 90 percent or more of their income. Another 26 percent receive at least half but less than 90 percent of their family income from Social Security.

Social Security benefits are particularly important for women, because, on average, women live longer and earn less than men. Fifty-two percent of all women aged 65 and older depend on Social Security benefits for 50 percent or more of their family income, compared to 45 percent of men. [...]

75% of unmarried women older than 65 get half or more of their income from Social Security.

Those women, who will live longer, will see their benefits cut the most. Because that's how this chained CPI works; as each year passes, the increase in cost of living shrinks. What won't shrink are the costs of prescription drugs, the cost of utilities, rent, property taxes—all of the things that are subject to inflation that don't get included in the CPI. The savings it might achieve could easily be swallowed up the number of people on the margins who would be forced into public housing, onto Medicaid and food stamps. Like everything else in this fake deficit peacockery, it's penny-wise and pound-foolish.

So how will the administration decide who's most vulnerable when almost half of Social Security recipients couldn't live without it? How do they decide which of these people deserve to be spared the cuts, and which don't?

Ezra Klein calls the chained CPI a "trick," a trick that puts a wonky name on what is simply a way to "cut Social Security benefits and increase taxes." That's exactly what it does, and it's exactly what President Obama and John Boehner want it to do. Otherwise it wouldn't have been included in these negotiations.

They're trying to trick us, but it's not going to work.

Tell President Obama to take Social Security cuts off the table, in current and in the future negotiations.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 09:34 AM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Social Security Defenders, and Daily Kos.

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