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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


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:31 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

This is the time to go on offense. Join with Senators like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren demanding that we expand Social Security. If nothing else, it keeps those who would cut the program on their heels. And it is the right policy, not only for elders but for overcoming the country's stifling inequality.

When I see reference to chained CPI it's often described ONLY as a change to the cost of living index, NOT resulting in reducing benefits to those who most need it. I join with Jan's comment that it's time to go on offense.

"...the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped. " ~ Last Speech of Hubert H. Humphrey

"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." ~ Mahatma Ghandi.

How will our society be judged? Over the years we have seen a steady decline in all of the aforementioned areas.

I am so sick of politicians using people on Social Security as bargaining chips!

Janinsanfran has it absolutely right. It's time to start calling your Representatives, writing about it on your blogs, send e-mails to all of your friends and ask them to keep forwarding it. Don't wait.

The only power we have are our numbers so please help multiply them.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." I'm beginning to think this should be tattooed on everyone's forehead.

Right now, they'll not easily decrease benefits, but they will wait us out, wait until our numbers are decreased or our age leaves us without any fight, and then they will pounce upon our benefits. I hope not, but they are relentless.

Old, young - we're all bargaining chips in Washington.

Apology accepted! It was fairly easy to misinterpret the quote, because it was just one sentence out of a long conversation I had with the reporter. My principal objection to the study is the notion that needing help equals "dependence," when in fact many people who get the help they need, or use equipment or other adaptations, lead lives of full participation in their communities, and are independent in the sense that they get to choose and control what they do.

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