Robert Reich just wrote the piece “Selling the Store: Why Democrats Shouldn’t Put Social Security and Medicare on the Table,” which states: “Prominent Democrats — including the President and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — are openly suggesting that Medicare be means-tested and Social Security payments be reduced by applying a lower adjustment for inflation.
“This is even before they’ve started budget negotiations with Republicans — who still refuse to raise taxes on the rich, close tax loopholes the rich depend on (such as hedge-fund and private-equity managers’ “carried interest”), increase capital gains taxes on the wealthy, cap their tax deductions, or tax financial transactions.
“It’s not the first time Democrats have led with a compromise, but these particular pre-concessions are especially unwise.”
MAX RICHTMAN, PAMELA CAUSEY [email]
Richtman is president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Causey is communications director of the group. Today Richtman wrote a letter to Obama that his pledges regarding Social Security have been “contradicted by statements made in recent months that both the chained CPI and Medicare means-testing remain a part of your deficit reduction proposal. The ‘chained CPI’ is not a ‘technical tweak, and no amount of rationalization can make it so. In reality, the chained CPI is a benefit cut for the oldest and most vulnerable Americans who would be least able to afford it. To offer to trade it away outside the context of a comprehensive Social Security solvency proposal ignores the fact that Social Security does not even belong in this debate because it does not contribute to the deficit. Cutting Social Security benefits to reduce the deficit is unacceptable to the vast majority of Americans across all ages and political affiliation.
“Likewise, we are concerned about proposals to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and to increase the Social Security full retirement age from 67 to 69. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is living longer or is able to work into their late 60s. While life expectancy has risen six years in the top half of income earners, workers in the bottom half have only gained 1.3 years. What is more, the bottom 40 percent of income earners depend on Social Security for nearly 90 percent of their total income. Benefit cuts through the chained CPI and delaying access to Medicare for millions of Americans would harm seniors, people with disabilities and children; and have a disproportionately negative affect on women and communities of color.
“When taken together, these benefit cuts will generate a tsunami of seniors living in poverty. …”