I just received this email from my Senator, the great Elizabeth Warren. I'm reposting it here for the benefit of people around the nation who are not on Senator Warren's email list.
Inch By Inch
My brother David has always had the special spark in our family.
Like our two older brothers, David served in the military. When he got out, he started a small business -- and when that one didn't work out, he started another one. He couldn't imagine an America where he wasn't living by his wits every single day.
Year after year, my brother paid into Social Security. He never questioned it. He figured he was paying so that he -- and a lot of other people -- could have a secure retirement.
Today my brother lives on his Social Security. That's about $1,100 a month. $13,200 a year.
I'm telling you my brother's story not because it's unusual, but because it's like the story of so many other people. I can almost guarantee that you know someone -- a family member, friend, or neighbor -- who counts on Social Security checks to get by.
That's why I was shocked to hear that the President's newest budget proposal would cut $100 billion in Social Security benefits. Our Social Security system is critical to protecting middle class families, and we cannot allow it to be dismantled inch by inch.
The President's policy proposal, known as "chained CPI," would re-calculate the cost of living for Social Security beneficiaries. That new number won't keep up with inflation on things like food and health care -- the basics that we need to live.
In short, "chained CPI" is just a fancy way to say "cut benefits for seniors, the permanently disabled, and orphans."
Two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for most of their income; one-third rely on it for at least 90% of their income. These people aren't stashing their Social Security checks in the Cayman Islands and buying vacation homes in Aruba – they are hanging on by their fingernails to their place in the middle class.
My brothers and I grew up in an America that invested in its kids and built a strong middle class. An America that allowed millions of children to rise from poverty and establish secure lives. An America that created Social Security and Medicare so that seniors could live with dignity.
We can't chip away at America's middle class and break the promise we make to our seniors.
Thank you for being a part of this,
UPDATE: A response from Senator Warren based on my communication with her office. Similar but worth adding (emphasis mine):
Thank you for contacting me to express your concern for protecting Social Security. The problems with Social Security funding are serious, but they are also fixable. Social Security is safe for at least the next 20 years and, if we act quickly, we can make modest changes that will keep the system solvent without cutting back on benefits. Social Security is a promise made to our seniors. It would be a breach of trust - and just plain bad economic policy - to jeopardize this program by subjecting it to arbitrary, dangerous, and unnecessary cuts.
As your Senator, I am committed to preventing the harmful cuts that would result from switching to a Chained Consumer Price Index (Chained-CPI) method of calculating benefits. Chained CPI is just a fancy way of saying, "cut benefits for seniors, the permanently disabled, and orphans." The Chained CPI method assumes that seniors spend money in the same ways that the rest of the nation does. We know, however, that this is not true. Seniors spend more of their annual income on health care than younger members of the population. Since health care expenditures are rising notably faster than other expenditures, the cost of living for seniors actually rises more quickly than it does for the rest of the population. Therefore, using the Chained CPI to determine the size of the annual cost of living adjustment in Social Security benefits would unfairly decrease benefits to Social Security recipients and endanger the livelihood of seniors.
Social Security was designed to give our nation's seniors the means to retire with independence and dignity, and I believe that the proposed switch to a Chained CPI moves us in the wrong direction. Our Social Security system is critical to protecting middle-class families, and we cannot allow it to be dismantled inch-by-inch. This issue is of the utmost importance to me, and I will continue to fight to protect the hard-earned benefits of Massachusetts' retired workers and their dependents.
Thank you again for reaching out to me. I appreciate your contacting my office about this important issue.
United States Senator