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Social Security, Medicare and Budget Conferees

Tomorrow, the newly appointed budget conferees meet for the first time to hammer out a budget deal conservatives hope will include benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  In spite of the fact that budget cuts have already paid for nearly 75% of deficit reduction, with only 25% coming from revenue increases, even that’s not enough as some in Congress continue their attack on America’s safety net programs.

The National Committee urges Congress to reject plans to cut Social Security benefits through adoption of a new COLA formula called the Chained CPI.  We explain why in a letter sent to all 28 Budget Resolution Conferees today:

The chained CPI would reduce Social Security benefits for the oldest and most vulnerable Americans who would be least able to afford it.  Three years after enactment, the chained CPI would cut the Social Security benefits of a typical 65 year-old by about $130.  By age 95, the same senior would face a reduction of almost $1,400 per year.  Moreover, the chained CPI would have a harmful economic impact on every state and congressional district in the country.  In a National Committee report released earlier this month, we found that the COLA cut could result in a $31 billion loss in economic output and the loss of more than 200,000 jobs nationwide in 2023.  For an estimate of how your state’s economy would be affected by the chained CPI, please see our Foundation Report.

Social Security does not face an immediate crisis and is not driving either the short-term deficit or long-term debt. Rather than cutting the already meager benefits, Social Security should be strengthened for the long-term by increasing the current payroll tax cap on earnings.

We’ve also urged the conferees to reject proposals to cut Medicare:

Regarding Medicare, beneficiaries already have high out-of-pocket costs, and because over half of beneficiaries are living on incomes of $22,500 or less, they cannot afford to pay more.  However, if the budget resolution includes Medicare cost shifting proposals, seniors and people with disabilities could be required to pay a $25 increase in their Part B deductible, a $100 copayment per home health episode, and higher Part B premiums for purchasing comprehensive Medigap plans.  And, further means-testing of Medicare would mean middle class seniors would pay higher Part B and D premiums.  These proposals would shift costs to beneficiaries without solving the underlying problem of overall health care inflation, and would make Medicare more complicated and difficult to administer.

Conservatives have said they hope to use these benefit cutting proposals, also included in the President’s budget, as bargaining chips in the budget conference which begins tomorrow.  The National Committee will continue our efforts to stop these harmful cuts including a demonstration next month at the White House reminding the President and Congress that the American people, of all ages and political parties, do not support cutting benefits to balance the budget.

 

 

 

 

Checkout NCPSSM’s “Equal Time”

 

Contrary to the headlines and sound bites coming from America’s newsrooms,  Social Security and Medicare aren’t to blame for our nation’s fiscal woes or our deficit.  In fact, without these vital programs our economy would be in even worse shape and millions more American families would be threatened with economic insecurity. Why do so many journalists and news/talk-show hosts ignore the facts in favor of one-sided propaganda? Why won’t they allow all sides to weigh on these important issues?  Whatever the reasons, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare believes the public deserves more balanced research and discussion.  The truth about our nation’s most successful and revered programs deserves EQUAL TIME. 

Our project, EQUAL TIME, busts through the myths and misleading statements in the news about Social Security and Medicare. We will find and correct the factual errors and politically charged perspectives. We’ll use social media like Facebook and Twitter to inform the reporters, pundits and anchors when they’ve been the subject of an EQUAL TIME correction. In this way, we hope to influence the mainstream media to use facts, not fiction, in their coverage of these important programs.   

Have you seen a story in which media got it wrong?  If so, let us know and we’ll track it down and provide the truth about Social Security and Medicare.  

 

House GOP Says --Killing Obamacare Didn’t Work So Let’s Cut Medicare Instead

Congressman Paul “Never Pass Up a Chance to Cut Benefits” Ryan’s latest deficit scheme adds a new set of hostages to the ongoing debt ceiling/government shutdown crises created by House Republicans.  Since the GOP wasn’t successful in withholding health insurance to millions of Americans already benefiting from Obamacare their new fallback position is to cut benefits for middle-class seniors in Medicare. 

Seems their promise that the GOP “has to get something” but they “don’t even know what it is” is still their game plan.  In the meantime our government remains shut down and the threat of default looms. 

While Ryan continues to pretend that his plan to further means-test Medicare only impacts the wealthy the truth (as usual) is quite different.  Further means-testing Medicare would hit 25% of beneficiaries...not just the wealthy.   In fact, a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that this would affect individuals with incomes equivalent to $47,000 – meaning it would reach many middle-income Americans. 

According to Ryan’s logic: when it comes to seniors who depend on Social Security and Medicare: $47,000 means you’re wealthy.  But, remember the tax debate?  Ryan and his conservative pals argued then that earning $250,000 didn’t even qualify as being wealthy.  However, now middle-class seniors in Medicare are being threatened by GOP hostage takers with benefit cuts. 

GOP Should Shut Down the Chained CPI

Originally posted on Huffington Post.

Max Richtman, President/CEO

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

It took only two days into the latest self-inflicted congressional crisis before Republicans on Capitol Hill resuscitated their zombie-like "grand bargain" scheme. Since their plan to defund Obamacare hasn't worked and the government shut down because of it, the GOP has now pivoted to the next best thing on their ideological wish list, benefit cuts for millions of middle-class Americans who depend on Social Security and Medicare.

The GOP's political gamesmanship and stated goal of "getting something" from this debacle has shifted the House leadership's attention to so-called "entitlement reform," which means benefit cuts targeting seniors including: Social Security Chained CPI, extending means testing in Medicare to the middle class, raising the retirement and eligibility ages, and ending traditional Medicare in favor of Rep. Paul Ryan's "Couponcare" plan. Each of these ideas shares the same fundamental flaw, requiring the still struggling middle-class to pay down our deficit while giving the wealthiest Americans a pass. However, the Chained CPI plan to change the formula which calculates the cost of living adjustment for seniors, veterans and people with disabilities is the most insidious of these proposals. Here's why the Chained CPI is so devastating, not only to seniors but to our economy as well.

While some in Washington portray this benefit cut as nothing more than a "technical tweak," the truth is that it would be a benefit cut imposed on the oldest and most vulnerable Americans who would be least able to afford it. In our new National Committee Foundation report, produced in consultation with economist Dean Baker, we've also clearly shown that the Chained CPI will have a huge impact on local businesses, state economies and our national economic recovery. "The Chained CPI: Shackling America's Economic Recovery," provides a detailed look at what the adoption of a stingier cost of living adjustment really means for communities and states. This study uses the Congressional Budget Office projections for cuts to national spending to estimate cuts that would be made in each congressional district, based on the Social Security Administration's data on Social Security spending by congressional district. It also makes projections for the economic impact on the reduction in output as well as the jobs lost in each district. The results are striking.

The negative impact of the Chained CPI should not be ignored or trivialized. This new analysis clearly illustrates just how harmful this COLA cut will be to seniors as well as state economies and local businesses. Adoption of this so-called "tweak" could mean the loss of $31 billion in economic output and more than 200,000 jobs nationwide. Washington's blind determination to cut Social Security benefits in the name of deficit reduction must be stopped and those who continue to peddle the Chained CPI should now explain to American workers, retirees and their families how losing billions of dollars in economic output and hundreds of thousands of jobs is a 'modest adjustment' we should accept.

While Washington's well-financed austerity lobby has downplayed the economic impact of losing billions in benefits spent in local communities due to the chained-CPI, step outside the Beltway and state lawmakers and business owners alike understand what this benefit cut would mean. That's why this study applies these calculations to each congressional district. It's time members of Congress see in clear dollars and cents what the Chained CPI actually means to their communities and constituents. Many districts with large populations of retirees would be especially hard-hit by these cuts.

In Florida's 16th congressional district, which includes Sarasota and other cities along the Gulf Coast, the benefit cuts would be $6.1 million in 2015, $53.3 million in 2020, and $87.7 million in 2023. This implies a loss of output in the district of $8.9 million in 2015, $80.2 million in 2020, and $127.2 million in 2023. The job loss would be 70 in 2015, 550 in 2020, and 780 in 2023.

In Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district, a largely rural area in the southwest corner of the states, the benefit cuts would be $5.0 million in 2015, $44.9 million in 2020, and $71.3 million in 2023. This implies a loss of output in the district of $7.2 million in 2015, $65.2 million in 2020, and $103.3 million in 2023. The job loss would be 60 in 2015, 440 in 2020, and 630 in 2023.

Given the economy's slow rebound, is this really their plan to strengthen America? Is there any community which can afford to lose millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs over the next decade? This is also at stake if the chained CPI is adopted.

Real dollars, real jobs and real damage to our economy.

Follow Max Richtman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/maxrichtman


 

Chained CPI Threatens Recovering Economy

New Economic Analysis Shows Billion$ of Dollars and Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs Would Be Lost While Seniors, Veterans & Disabled Put At Risk

The National Committee Foundation has released a startling new report today which details, state by state and Congressional District by District, the true economic impact of adopting a new formula called the “Chained CPI” to measure annual cost of living adjustments (COLA). While some in Washington portray this benefit cut as nothing more than a “technical tweak” the truth is it would be a benefit cut imposed on the oldest and most vulnerable Americans who would be least able to afford it.

Our report,  “The Chained CPI: Shackling America’s Economic Recovery,” was created in consultation with economist Dean Baker and provides a detailed look at what the adoption of a stingier cost of living adjustment really means for communities and states. 

“The negative impact of the Chained CPI should not be ignored or trivialized. This new analysis clearly illustrates just how harmful this COLA cut will be to seniors as well as state economies and local businesses. Washington’s blind determination to cut Social Security benefits in the name of deficit reduction must be stopped and those who continue to peddle the Chained CPI should now explain to American workers, retirees and their families how losing up to $31 billion in economic output and more than 200,000 jobs nationwide is a ‘modest adjustment’ we should accept.” Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

“Social Security plays an enormously important role in stabilizing the economy during a downturn. It maintains a flow of income to a group of people (the elderly and disabled) who will overwhelmingly spend it. In this way it sustains demand and consumption. The downturn we have seen since 2007 would have undoubtedly been far more severe without Social Security altogether. Any measure that reduces benefits would lessen the stabilizing role that Social Security plays.” Dean Baker, Co-Director Center for Economic and Policy Research

“The Chained CPI: Shackling America’s Economic Recovery,” uses CBO projections to calculate state and Congressional district level impact of the Chained CPI proposal. Many districts with large senior populations would be especially hard-hit by the Chained CPI cuts, top among those:

 In Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district, a largely rural area in the southwest corner of the states, the benefit cuts would be $5.0 million in 2015, $44.9 million in 2020, and $71.3 million in 2023. This would imply a loss of output in the district of $7.2 million in 2015, $65.2 million in 2020, and $103.3 million in 2023. The implied job loss would be 60 in 2015, 440 in 2020, and 630 in 2023.

 In Florida’s 16th congressional district, which includes Sarasota and other cities along the Gulf Coast, the benefit cuts would be $6.1 million in 2015, $53.3 million in 2020, and $87.7 million in 2023. This would imply a loss of output in the district of $8.9 million in 2015, $80.2 million in 2020, and $127.2 million in 2023. The implied job loss would be 70 in 2015, 550 in 2020, and 780 in 2023.

Congressman Ted Deutsch is a champion of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on Capitol Hill. His legislation extends the solvency of Social Security - without raising the retirement age or slashing benefits – and finally guarantees adequate and accurate cost of living adjustments each year.

“We’ve heard the Chained CPI just slows COLA growth but this cut actually hurts not only seniors but also the communities where they live.  No matter how you try, you simply can’t make this proposal sound reasonable to seniors, veterans, the disabled and their families.  Losing billions in output, hundreds of thousands of job and taking a step backward in our economy at this moment simply doesn’t make sense.  We’ve got to make some changes for Social Security’s long-term solvency and we can do that. But the problem isn’t lavish benefits to seniors.”  Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-FL)

While Washington’s well-financed austerity lobby has downplayed the economic impact of losing billions in benefits spent in local communities due to the chained-CPI, step outside the Beltway and state lawmakers and business owners alike understand what this benefit cut would mean:

“Social Security is invaluable not only to our senior citizens, but to our economy. We must stand firm against any change that imperils both our seniors and our economy. Benefit changes that lead to a loss in purchasing power and employment would be detrimental to both national and local economies.”  New Jersey Assemblywoman Celeste M. Riley

Abraham Kapusuz owns the Green Olive restaurant in Bridgeton, New Jersey.  The vast majority of his patrons depend on Social Security and he knows first hand what a cut in benefits would mean to his customers and his business:

“I’ve talked with many of my customers about the chained CPI proposal and they are 100% opposed. Not only would they feel a big pinch in the wallets, but my employees could be hurt too. If I have fewer customers, I obviously can’t keep a payroll of 50 people so some staff would lose their jobs. The chained CPI sounds like a lose-lose proposition. It will hurt my customers, it will hurt me and it will harm my local economy.”  Abraham Kapusuz, small business owner

A full breakdown of the economic and employment impact of the Chained CPI, by state and each Congressional District, can be found on the National Committee Foundation’s website.

 

 

 


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