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Pelosi: 'Chained CPI' is not a benefit cut

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi may not be a fan of reducing future Social Security cost-of-living increases to seniors, but she said Wednesday that it doesn’t count as a benefit cut.

“No. I consider it a strengthening of Social Security,” the California Democrat told reporters.

That stance puts her at odds with many liberal pressure groups who are angry that President Obama has agreed as part of the fiscal cliff talks to use what’s called “chained CPI,” rather than the simple Consumer Price Index, to calculate cost-of-living increases for a number of federal programs, including Social Security and some veterans’ benefits.

Chained CPI would grow more slowly than the regular CPI, which would mean benefits would rise less quickly in the future.

“If news reports are correct and the White House is considering this benefit cut, then President Obama has broken faith with seniors and his commitment to keep Social Security out of the deficit debate,” said the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “The chained CPI would mean an immediate benefit cut of $130 per year for the typical 65-year old retiree and would grow exponentially to a $1,400 cut after 30 years of retirement.”

AARP, which lobbies on behalf of the elderly, called the formula change “a stealth benefit reduction.”

And Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, agreed.

“Reducing COLA is a Social Security benefit cut,” she tweeted Tuesday. “Any deal that cuts Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits is unacceptable.”

Mrs. Pelosi said she’s told her fellow Democrats to let their displeasure be known.

“I’ve said to the members, express yourself, speak out against, because I’m not thrilled with the president’s proposal,” she said.

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