Progressives in Congress aren’t falling for the trick that Washington is using to cut Social Security in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Instead they are raising their voices against the insanity of Democrats committing political suicide by: destroying their credibility, reneging on their promise to keep Social Security “off the table” during “fiscal cliff” negotiations, and to ensure that “There will be no changes to Social Security.” Not to mention alienating the elderly with the annual reminder their benefits are have shrunk, and handing the Republicans a political weapon by empowering them to tell seniors, “Democrats betrayed you, and cut your Social Security benefits.
Here are some of the progressives who are speaking up to talk the White House down from that “fiscal cliff.”
Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Raul Grijalva (D, Ariz.-03), in an “Democracy Now!” interview, rejected the president’s compromise to cut more from Social Security than from the military.
AMY GOODMAN: Democratic Congressmember Raúl Grijalva of Arizona has rejected the Social Security cuts outlined in the plan, joining us right now from the Cannon Rotunda on Capitol Hill.
Congressmember, welcome to Democracy Now! Why have you rejected President Obama’s compromise with John Boehner, the House speaker?
REP. RAÚL GRIJALVA: Well, it’s a compromise built on very, very weak—on a very weak platform, particularly for Social Security and, as we go down the road, Medicare and Medicaid, in particular. I worry, and many of the members of the Progressive Caucus worry, that we’ve opened up a door here by talking about linking CPI in any area. And with Social Security, once you open that door, then…
And for us now to open that door now and to allow that bridge to be connected, you might want to say that we’re just only going to deal with one portion of the strata. I don’t believe that. And I believe that in the long run, we have taken a program that has been a bedrock program for the American people and opened the door for some long-term damage down the road. There are so many things that can be done to generate revenue that we’re not looking at, that’s not on the table. Even Simpson-Bowles says Social Security does not create the deficit. It is, though, a source of revenue. And that’s how it’s being looked at in terms of these cuts.
Rep. Grijalva rejected the compromise as a “Washington fig leaf,” and called on his colleagues to “make their feelings known as soon as possible.” Many have answered that call.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Keith Ellison (D, Minn.-5) has affirmed his commitment to “standing against any benefit cuts to programs Americans rely on,” and explained just why “chained CPI is a cut.”
Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Democrat who was one of Obama’s earliest and most enthusiastic backers in 2008, did the math: “The current average earned benefit for a 65 year old on Social Security is $17,134. Using chained CPI will result in a $6,000 loss for retirees in the first fifteen years of retirement and adds up to a $16,000 loss over twenty-five years. This change would be devastating to beneficiaries, especially widowed women, more than a third of whom rely on the program for 90% of their income and use every single dollar of the Social Security checks they’ve earned. This would require the most vulnerable Americans to dig further into their savings to fill the hole left by unnecessary and irresponsible cuts to Social Security.”
Quite simply, Ellison says, “A move towards chained CPI would be a long-term benefit cut for every single person who receives a Social Security check.”
Rep. Donna Edwards (D, Md.-4) is circulating a letter calling on President Obama to reject cutting Social Security via the “chained CPI.” Rep. Edwards called out the imbalance “compromise” in an interview with Washington Post.
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), who organized 57 House Democrats to sign a letter last week urging Obama and congressional leaders to protect Social Security, nonetheless argued that adopting chained CPI would result in “serious benefit cuts for recipients, particularly for our seniors and the disabled.”
“You can’t tell me it’s balanced when the principal payees are seniors and the disabled,” Edwards said.
And in case anyone missed that Edwards has also taken her message to Twitter.
For all beneficiaries — seniors, vets, children, the disabled — Chained CPI is a benefits cut.
— Rep Donna F Edwards (@repdonnaedwards) December 18, 2012
Rep. John Lewis (D, Ga.-5) urged his colleagues to live up to their campaign promises, and warned them no to “play with the lives of senior citizens.
“I don’t know how many members ran on a promise not to cut Social Security. Now, without any hard proposal to raise taxes on the rich, some are using Social Security as a carrot to get a deal. We cannot, and we must not play with the lives of senior citizens,” said Georgia Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) yesterday.
…“The people of this nation are depending upon us to be true to our word,” continued John Lewis. “People work hard in America, and they deserve to retire with dignity. The reward of their hard work should not be a significant reduction in resources the longer they live and the more vulnerable they become. Something is wrong with this equation,” he added.
Some also spoke out via Twitter.
Rep. Hank Jonson (D, Ga. 5)
#socialsecurity has nothing to do with the deficit — why are we even talking about it?
— Rep. Hank Johnson (@RepHankJohnson) December 18, 2012
Rep. Barbara Lee (D, Calif. 9)
Reducing COLA is a Social Security benefit cut. Any deal that cuts Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits is unacceptable.
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) December 18, 2012
Sen. Jeff Merckley (D, Ore.)
The formula we use to adjust cost-of-living for seniors needs to reflect real costs they face, not budgetary fantasies of Washington.
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) December 18, 2012
The voters sent a message to Congress to focus on jobs and fairness — not cutting benefits for people who have worked all their lives.
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) December 18, 2012