Monday, 24 February 2014
A Sigh of Relief on Social Security (Or Maybe Not)
CORRECTION: Before I get to the news about Social Security, I must make you aware of a correction to last week's Thursday post titled If You've Seen One Old Person....
Here is the update I have inserted at the appropriate place on that page and the edit I have made:
It has been brought to my attention that I misread the quote from Professor H. Stephen Kaye. His point is that people who use personal assistance to adapt to disability should not, as is widely believed, be thought of as more disabled than those who use devices to get along.
I could not agree more and extend my apologies to Professor Kaye although, unrelated to his point, I do still have reservations about the study that is the subject of the post.
That sounds to me like one more ageist way to define old age itself as a disability. By Kaye's reasoning, anyone wearing eye glasses or contact lenses would be categorized as disabled.
Again, my apologies to Professor Kaye.
Long ago I lost track of how many posts I've written about chained CPI, how many videos I've embedded that explain how that particular inflation calculation would reduce Social Security benefits and how many petitions I've asked you to sign against chained CPI.
Whether all our work and that of hundreds of thousands of others are the cause or not, the White House announced last Thursday that chained CPI will not be included in the 2015 budget proposal President Barack Obama will soon deliver to Congress.
As you probably recall, the question of chained CPI began a couple of years ago when the president offered the cut to Social Security cost-of-living increases in his so-called “grand bargain” budget negotiations with Republican House Speaker from Ohio, John Boehner.
The president's threat to agree to change the inflation calculation for Social Security remained a possibility until the Thursday announcement:
”...as senior White House officials characterize it, the president is tired of extending unrequited olive branches to the GOP,” [reports Talking Points Memo.]
"'[O]ver the course of last year,' a White House official said, 'Republicans consistently showed a lack of willingness to negotiate on a deficit reduction deal, refusing to identify even one unfair tax loophole they would be willing to close, despite the President's willingness to put tough things on the table.'"
So, no chained CPI offer this year. Good news that gives us a wonderful reason to stand up from our desks, laptops, tablets, smartphones or whatever else we're using to read this story and do a little victory jig.
We worked hard for this so celebration is in order. A happy dance and a whoopee - we did it.
Take a little time for that moment of joy before you read on because the next event in this tale is guaranteed to cause you whiplash and prove that the writers of House of Cards know whereof they speak in regard to the treachery of Washington politicians, including the president.
Okay. Have you finished your dance? Are you ready for the rest of this story? Here goes.
Almost immediately following the announcement that chained CPI had been dropped from the president's proposed budget, White House Deputy Press Secretary, Josh Earnest issued a clarification:
“...the president's proposal [for chained CPI] remains 'on the table,' but only as part of a larger package that would shrink tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations,” reported Steve Dennis in Roll Call about the clarification.
“'The offer to Speaker Boehner remains on the table for whenever the Republicans decide they want to engage in a serious discussion about a balanced plan to deal with our long-term fiscal challenges that includes closing loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and corporations,' a White House official said in a separate background memo,” according to Roll Call.
In other words, the president still believes in chained CPI. In other words, if the Republicans will meet certain negotiation requests, the president will again offer to slash Social Security benefits.
As far as I can find, none of the usual political media reported the White House "clarification" on chained CPI. Except for Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM).
In a post at the NCPSSM website, Richtman applauded the president's move to drop chained CPI as he simultaneously noted how squishy that offer really is:
”While it appears the White House has, for now, listened to the vast majority of Americans, of all ages and political parties, the President has still left the door open for more 'let’s make a deal' bargaining with seniors’ benefits,” said Mr. Richtman.
“He’s taking one step forward by keeping the Chained CPI out of his budget. We hope he won’t end up taking one step back by offering it up again later during any budget talks.”
Sorry, my friends. We may have to fight this one all over again.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Carl Hansen: The Day TV Came to Our House