Hoagy Carmichael

The President Puts Chained CPI in Writing

Last week, the incessant blame game between Republicans and Democrats was in full force over whose fault sequestration is and whether the president offered any deficit reduction items to Congress. That's all just noise - blah, blah, blah - but something important to you and me came out of it.

If you had been willing to give President Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt on whether he really would cut Social Security for current beneficiaries or if you believed it could not possibly be true that he would reduce the deficit on the backs of America's elders, you will have to give up your dreams.

At the White House website is a document named “The President’s Plan: $4 Trillion of Deficit Reduction Including the Last Offer to Speaker Boehner.” Click image for larger view [pdf].)


The relevant line circled in red above reads: “Spending Savings from Superlative CPI with protections for vulnerable - $130 billion."

Keep in mind, that would be an immediate reduction in current benefits that would continue every year there is a cost-of-living increase and the reduction would be cumulative year over year over year.

AARP has posted a calculator that will give you a rough estimate of how much SSA benefit income you will lose over time if chained CPI is implemented.

Please recall that Social Security contributes not one penny to the deficit. Social Security is not bankrupt nor is it broke. It is solvent for about another 20 years and then, with no changes, it could continue to pay about 75 percent of benefits.

Small changes that would hurt no one can make Social Security whole for many decades beyond 2033, changes like removing the salary cap so everyone pays FICA on their entire salary just like the poor people do.

As it is, the U.S. Social Security benefit is the smallest in the developed world and if anything, should be increased. Even the consumer price index that is used now to calculate Social Security COLAs doesn't begin to reflect the real price increases elders bear year after year.

It is hard to believe that President Obama does not know all this. So what could be his reason, do you think, for making the chained CPI giveaway to Republicans, a move that would harm millions of elders who paid into Social Security all their working lives?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Susan Gulliford: Where's the Paper Boy?


I believe Means Testing would also be a viable way to extend Social Security without impacting those most at risk.

My position on means testing is what I wrote last week:

"Social Security is already means tested. Beneficiaries whose total income exceeds only $25,000 for singles ($32,000 for couples), pay taxes on their benefit. Additional means testing would turn Social Security into a poverty program vulnerable to every cost-cutting whim of Congress."

Wasn't this the President's stand for the last election?

This is so disappointing. I can only say that Obama is willing to throw us under the bus to get what he wants on the rest of the budget. A politician is a politician first and foremost. FDR must be rolling in his grave.

Forgive me, Ronni, for using your blog for a personal notice. I want to inform all who wished me and my son well that I arrived back home last night and my son's recuperative powers are so outstanding that he surprised his doctors with a remarkable recovery and is back at work on a limited basis.

I can't say anything civil about this. It could be a death sentence for many of us.

I went in search for an explanation of what 'with protection for the vulnerable' means. Apparently, Obama has added limitations so the poorest will indeed have some protections, resulting in only $130 billion savings vs the $200 billion the GOP wants. I view this as throwing crumbs to the GOP so they'll co-operate.

I got my info here: http://sync.democraticunderground.com/10022419846. If you go there be sure to read comment #7.

This is infuriating and so sad.

The President proposes cutting benefits to raise $130 billion? And up a few lines he will reduce payments to drug companies to raise $140 billion? I'm sorry...I don't know exactly the purpose of payments to drug companies, but I bet they (and others) could also cover the $130B without pain.

I just want to print millions of copies of this column and plaster it all over the country.

To Darlene...wonderful news! Glad your son has done so well.

Thanks for keeping us informed on the latest doings. I've written my congressmen and president AGAIN. Used the AARP sight. That was a helpful link to do the calculation.

This must not stand. It's up to us to raise holy hell!

Great to see AARP facilitating this.

The danger of the President's "protections" for those who have least is that the notion extends government by bureaucracy and kludge. They wouldn't give us single-payer; they could only give us the ACA which no one understands. This sort of thing undermines democracy and citizenship. Why try to interact with it if you can't understand it?

In the game of Chicken, the President loses once again. There is simply no excuse for this. On the AARP front I was about to let my subscription lapse as I was finding it harder and harder to follow their logic on important matters. Now I will wait and see on all fronts.

I see Lauren had the same question I did about the wording "with protections for vulnerable" However when I clicked on the link provided I got a "Not Found" message. However there was this from Roll Call which essentially says the same thing that Lauren's comments do

I suppose that offers some solace but its full effect remains to be seen. We can only hope there are enough in Congress like Bernie Sanders who will stand up to this cut but that seems unlikely

The minute you put in means testing it becomes welfare. I am glad I have other forms of income besides SS, such as SS from Switzerland!
The richest nation on earth, the U.S., is also one of the cheapest and stingiest.

To add to Ronni's very helpful summary: see the following link for even more information, and this is not from AARP, but from Truthout, a daily collection of articles from lesser known sources:


Ronnie, I went to the White House web page and then shared the link on my Facebook page. I also referenced TGB so folks could read what you had to say more eloquently than I could. Let me know if referencing TGB is okay.

Or if referencing TGB is not okay too.

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