A liberal group has launched a preemptive strike against President Obama’s budget, saying that Democrats should not lead the charge to reduce Social Security costs by adopting a new way to calculate payments to beneficiaries.
In a new two-minute video released by MoveOn.org, Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under former President Bill Clinton, says Mr. Obama and Democrats should not embrace a new inflation measure — known as “chained CPI” or the revised consumer price index — because it would slow the rate of growth in payments to seniors and future retirees who are already struggling to keep up with the rising costs of health care, which has climbed faster than inflation.
“Social Security isn’t in serious trouble,” Mr. Reich says in the video. “The Social Security Trust fund is flush for at least two decades. If we want to ensure it is there beyond that, there is an easy fix. Just lift the ceiling on income subject to SocialS ecurity taxes, which is now $113,700.”
Mr. Obama has previous put the chained CPI on the table as a bargaining chip in fiscal talks with House GOP leaders on Capitol Hill, though it is unclear whether he plans to include it in the spending plan that he is scheduled to release next week.
Mr. Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform also recommended that Congress make the change.
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated that the chained CPI is designed to more closely approximate a cost-of-living index than the standard CPI, and experts on both sides of the aisle have supported this technical improvement to the index,” the groups’ 2010 “The Moment of Truth” report said.
Republicans have long argued that Congress, in order to get the nation’s fiscal house in order and reduce the nation’s massive pile of debt, has to reshape Social Security and other entitlement programs, which make up the fastest-growing parts of the federal spending.
Mr. Reich, though, argues in the MoveOn.org video that it does not make any sense for Democrats to move in that direction on Social Security.
“Why are Democrats even suggesting that the inflation adjustment should be reduced?” he says. “Republicans aren’t asking for it. Not even Paul Ryan’s draconian budget includes it. Democrats invented Social Security and have been protecting it for almost 80 years. They shouldn’t be leading the charge against it. Call your member of Congress and tell them no chained CPI. Hands off Social Security.”