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It never ceases to amaze us how often Washington journalists completely miss the point. Today’s headlines touting President Obama’s refusal to support raising the Medicare eligibility age is the perfect example. White House spokesman, Jay Carney, pulled the perfect bait and switch at yesterday’s daily briefing by offering up the Medicare nugget as if it were new (and it’s not) in order to distract from the real news of the day.

That news? The President has flip-flopped yet again on Social Security. As of yesterday, it now appears the President is once again willing to cut Social Security benefits immediately, even though he’s said Social Security isn’t a driver of the debt and should not be a part of the deficit debate.

Here’s the how the flip has flopped over the past three months:

“Over the past two years, the White House had made it clear in budget negotiations that it was open to Social Security benefit reductions as part of a larger deal that included tax hikes. Yet on Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney appeared to back up Durbin's position, suggesting a "separate track" be used to reform Social Security. "We should address the drivers of the deficit, and Social Security currently is not a driver of the deficit," he said.”… Huffington Post, November 2012

This “I support a separate track because Social Security isn’t the problem” perspective is also what President Obama told NCPSSM President, Max Richtman, and other advocates in a November White House meeting.

But here are yesterday’s White House comments on Social Security:

“Q: But I just want to be clear what you said at the beginning of that answer, which is the President --

MR. CARNEY: It is not our --

Q: -- as part of an overall balanced approach, he does not rule out effectively reducing benefits for Social Security recipients?

MR. CARNEY: He has put forward a technical change as part of a big deal -- and it’s on the table -- that he put forward to the Speaker of the House. The Speaker of the House, by the way, walked away from that deal even though it met the Republicans halfway on revenues and halfway on spending cuts and included some tough decisions by the President on entitlements. The Speaker walked away from that deal.

But as part of that deal, the technical change in the so-called CPI is possible in his own offer as part of a big deal.”

For those who don’t speak politician, that means even though we know cutting Social Security benefits as a part of a deficit deal makes no sense, we’re going to do it anyway in the name of “shared sacrifice”.


“How do you explain to a senior that we’re doing this, asking you to sacrifice, but we’re not saying that corporate jet owners should lose their special tax incentive; we’re not saying to oil and gas companies who are making record profits that they should forego these huge subsidies that taxpayers provide?  That’s not fair and it’s not good economics.” Jay Carney, White House spokesman
Catch what’s being done here?  The White House is repeating the same flawed logic offered by Washington’s billion dollar anti-entitlement lobby that “shared sacrifice” means retired veterans, people with disabilities and retirees living on the average $14,000 Social Security benefit (which they contributed throughout their working lives) must see benefit cuts before Washington will even talk about trillions of dollars in corporate tax loopholes and giveaways to multimillionaires.
This false equivalency pretends that a tax dollar lost to a millionaire or huge corporation is the same as a benefit dollar lost to a retiree living on $14,000 a year from Social Security. America’s seniors know that’s not a fair and balanced approach, it’s not sensible reform and it’s not the path to economic recovery”…Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO
Let’s be clear what this so-called “technical change” really is.  The "Chained CPI", will cut the annual cost of living allowance (COLA) by 3% for workers retired for ten years and 6% for workers retired for twenty years. This translates to a benefit cut of $130 per year in Social Security benefits for a typical 65 year-old. By the time that senior reaches 95, the annual benefit cut will be almost $1,400. This COLA change would also take effect immediately, impacting retirees now and in the future.

These reductions disproportionately impact Social Security's oldest beneficiaries. These are often women who have outlived their other sources of income, depleted their assets, and rely on Social Security as their only lifeline to financial stability. Claims that the current COLA is too generous are false. The COLA has averaged just 2% over the past five years with 0% for two of those years.

There is a formula that more accurately measures expenses retirees incur. The CPI-E was developed in 1987 to reflect the different spending patterns of consumers age 62 and older. This formula acknowledges health costs have been rising much faster than other expenses, and that those costs represent a much larger percentage of seniors' monthly spending than is the case with other demographic groups. The CPI-E is a more accurate measure of the real-world expenses retirees face than the current COLA formula and far more accurate than the proposed Chained CPI which would cut projected benefits over time.

Contrary to the political spin, this chained CPI proposal isn’t a “tweak” or an “adjustment,” it cuts benefits and raises taxes, largely on the poor and middle class, totaling $208 billion over ten years.  $112 billion of those benefits cuts come from Social Security alone with up to $24 billion coming from VA benefits and civilian and military retirement pay cuts.

Sound fair, equitable or reasonable to you?

Originally posted to NCPSSM on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 10:03 AM PST.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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Comment Preferences

  •  President also supported means testing Medicare... (8+ / 0-)

    ...in last night's speech. He's stuck in the weeds of  willingness to pay (from obligations to American's)  for a semblance of buy-in from Republicans, deficit peacocks and "entitlement" hawks instead of solving problems (i.e., jobs jobs jobs).

    •  he said that all his proposals for stimulus (3+ / 0-)

      would be paid for out of funds already appropriated and that it would not raise the deficit.

      That's not stimulus. That's just shuffling existing money around! So he's proposing to give the Republicans another shot at hostage-taking (since presumably they'd need to approve the shuffling) without any chance of getting them to getting more spending.

      Seriously, this "strategy" is beyond pointless. He's barely pretending to make sense; not that it matters.

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 11:50:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "shared sacrifice" my ass. (10+ / 0-)

    Incredible concept. Terrible strategy.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 10:32:50 AM PST

  •  Y'know, all I can say is FUCK those people. West (5+ / 0-)

    Wing Machiavelli assholes. "Constitution?" General welfare? "Do the right thing?" BULLshit. And for us disabled veterans, and veterans generally, who have been the MICC's dupes for generations, can't you just wait to see what we get to bend over and cough for NEXT?

    And it so heartens me to see that Dickless Cheney and the Really Wise People in the WH and State and DoJ and of course the Pentagram all agree on something, at least:

    "Cheney Likes Something Obama's Doing: Drone Strikes!"

        "I think it's a good program and I don't disagree with the basic policy that the Obama administration has pursued."

    That's the word today from former Vice President Dick Cheney about the Obama administration's use of missiles fired from aerial drones to kill suspected terrorists overseas. And it's OK if the suspects are American citizens, Cheney added, if they've joined with terrorists who are out to harm the United States and its allies.

    Drone strikes are the one thing Cheney spoke favorably about when he was asked on CBS This Morning about the current administration.

    Otherwise, Cheney thinks:

    -- Obama's national security team is "second rate."

    -- Obama's foreign and national security policies are making the nation "vulnerable to the future."

    "I'm very, very concerned about what I see happening in the national security arena," Cheney said.

    http://www.vpr.net/...

    Just FUCK those people. ALL of the WallStreetPumping pimps and whores, the ones selling the latest futile war drumming in the mideast, the ones who now hope the rest of us will be as happy with the "drawdown and slink away -- yeah, we meant to do that all along" bullshit as we were with the end of the Vietnam war -or-whatever-that-was, and that same sigh of relief we are stupid enough to heave when gas prices and coffee prices have doubled and then drop back to only 1 1/2 times what they were before the dials were twisted upward in some "shock" or "crisis" that we all are dumb enough to believe in, while too stupified to believe that it's almost or already way past time to do anything about conservation and alternatives that would make stupid deceptive shit like serial "bailouts" and Carney's ball-hiding and those mideast "wars" like, totally unnecessary. Except as they enrich a few, very few, people, right?

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 10:35:21 AM PST

  •  NCPSSM I think you were more effective when (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musiccitymollie, HeyMikey

    your writing style was more explanatory. To me, this diary comes across as adversarial. It's possible you could build support for what you are arguing against with this new style.

  •  Hear, Hear! One of the best diaries that I've (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert, vigilant meerkat

    seen on the "reform" of the social insurance programs!

    Thanks for being explicit, and giving some detail in your explanation, so that folks will understand what is really going on.

    All we get from the MSM is more double-speak and sugar coating, since they are cheerleaders for all attempts to cut Social Security and Medicare.

    Kudos!

    Mollie

    "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

    "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

    by musiccitymollie on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 12:15:54 PM PST

    •  Please allow me to petition-pimp... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      musiccitymollie

      I started a Whitehouse.gov petition to use the CPI-E. Link in my first comment on this diary.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 02:49:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  HeyMikey, I honestly don't get involved in signing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey

        petitions which require my email address (and yes, they all do, LOL!).

        >But I did "Tweet" this petition, in all of our Twitter accounts (we don't "do" Facebook, unfortunately).

        Maybe that will garner a few signatures--I hope so.

        If I get a chance later, I will Tweet the petition using hashtags, which can sometimes reach a pretty large audience.

        Thanks for setting up this petition.  I certainly support the cause.  :-)

        Mollie

        "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible." --Frank L. Gaines

        "If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

        by musiccitymollie on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 05:45:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  About those emails... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          musiccitymollie

          Set up a free gmail or yahoo or hotmail or whatever account that you use only for signing petitions, buying stuff, and other stuff that's likely to result in spam.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 06:54:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Superb diary! (4+ / 0-)

    If I hear the words, "shared sacrifice" uttered by overpaid politicians, journalists, and commentators much more my head is going to explode.  As if seniors, poor, and vulnerable people are not already sacrificing.    

    As you point out, chained CPI is a MAJOR cut in benefits to THE most vulnerable populations.  It is inhumane, bad policy, and politically idiotic.  Democrats, beware!  Your pursuit of policies which weaken the New Deal, and Great Society programs will not be embraced by many of your supporters.  If you persist your big tent party will become a lot smaller.  

  •  Sign & share my petition to use CPI-E. (2+ / 0-)

    My new whitehouse.gov petition:

    WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

    use the CPI-E (the Price Index for the Elderly) to annually adjust Social Security benefits.

    The proposed use of the "chained CPI" for Social Security cost-of-living adjustments would be an ever-worsening cut in Social Security benefits. This is because the CPI-E (the Experimental Price Index for the Elderly, calculated by the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics) shows the goods and services purchased by the elderly actually experience greater inflation than even the general CPI.

    As economic commentator Matthew Yglesias explained: "Grandma buys a lot of health care services and isn’t so interested in the falling price of an iPad 2." http://www.slate.com/...

    The CPI-E, not the general CPI or chained CPI, should be used for Social Security COLAs.

    Sign & share this petition here.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 02:46:34 PM PST

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