The White House provided reporters an early look at President Obama’s 2014 budget and the news for seniors is not good. This assessment by Firedoglake’s Daniel Wright sums it up best:
“President Barack Obama has once again started his negotiations by scoring into his own net. In what may be the dumbest plan yet proposed, Obama has offered cuts to Social Security hoping for a change in the Republican’s position on tax loopholes for the wealthy.
President Barack Obama’s proposed budget will call for reductions in the growth of Social Security and other benefit programs by including a proposal to lower cost-of-living adjustments to government social safety net spending, a senior administration official says.
Because with poverty hitting new record levels, now is a great time to cut benefits”
The President’s budget plan ignores his statements made during and after the election that Social Security should not be used to cut the deficit and also his promises for a balanced fiscal approach that wouldn’t target middle-class Americans. In truth, President Obama’s budget will cut $127.2 billion in Social Security benefits by adopting the stingier Chained CPI and further means testing in Medicare. It also raises less than half the new revenue offered in previous proposals.
Cutting benefits by adopting the chained CPI, as proposed by the White House, would cut the COLA by 3% for workers retired for ten years and 6% for workers retired for twenty years. This translates to a benefit cut of $130 per year in Social Security benefits for a typical 65 year-old, including today’s retirees. The cumulative cut for that individual would be $4,631 or more than three months of benefits by age 75; $13,910 or nearly a year of benefits by age 85; and $28,004, more than a year and a half of benefits by age 95. While the President has promised not to “slash” benefits, losing three months up to more than a year and half of income would count as “slashing benefits” by anyone’s standards, especially for America’s oldest retirees, veterans and people with disabilities living on modest incomes.
This budget also continues the lopsided deficit reduction strategy used since 2011 in which more than 75% of deficit reduction has come from program cuts. So much for a “balanced approach”.
As CEPR’s Dean Baker reminds us:
Since President Obama’s proposal would lead to a 3 percent cut in Social Security benefits, it would reduce the income of the typical retiree by more than 2.0 percent, more than three times the size of the hit from the tax increase to the wealthy.
Here is NCPSSM President Max Richtman’s reaction to the President Obama’s budget:
“If news reports today are correct, President Obama will soon renege on his commitment to keep Social Security out of the deficit debate, ignoring his campaign promise to millions of Americans that he would protect vital middle class programs like Social Security. By including a proposal in his 2014 budget to change the current cost of living allowance formula to a stingier and less accurate Chained CPI, the President has suggested an immediate benefit cut of $130 per year for the typical 65-year old retiree that would grow exponentially to a $1,400 cut after 30 years of retirement.
Contrary to the political spin, this chained CPI proposal isn’t a “tweak” or an “adjustment,” it’s designed to cut benefits and raises taxes, largely on the poor and middle class, totaling $208 billion over ten years. $127.2 billion of those benefits cuts come from Social Security with about $24 billion coming from VA benefits and civilian and military retirement pay cuts.
Seniors will have received an average COLA of 1.3% over 4 years with no increase in two of those years. Arguing that is too generous shows how out of touch Washington is with the real-world economic realities facing average Americans. Adopting the chained CPI is nothing more than a political sleight of hand targeting our nation’s middle class and poor.
This budget is also reported to include more means testing in Medicare and less than half the new revenue requested in earlier budget negotiations. The President’s budget is not the balanced plan promised to Americans before November’s election and will leave millions of middle-class families in even worse shape than they are today.”…Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO