A 'grand bargain' that would cut Social Security and Medicare would be a 'grand betrayal'

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Now that there is an agreement between the U.S. House and Senate to fund the government and to raise the debt ceiling, seniors are continuing to pressure lawmakers to ensure there are no cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits.

There is concern that a “grand bargain” between President Obama and Republicans would include benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The cuts could come from switching to a “chained CPI” (short for Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers) that would result in lower Social Security annual cost-of-living adjustments. Another bad idea is means-testing Medicare by increasing premiums not only for seniors with higher incomes but for many in the middle class. Retirees say that any “grand bargain” that would cut Social Security and Medicare would be a “grand betrayal.” 

“There is real danger ahead of a ‘grand bargain’ that would cut seniors’ Social Security and Medicare benefits, giving us more reason to be anxious,” says Edward Coyle, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, an organization that has partnered with the AFT. “The alliance’s members are watching closely and remaining hopeful that Washington finds a way to do the right thing. That certainly doesn’t mean wrongly trying to solve the country’s budget problems on the backs of our seniors.”

In early October, dozens of members of Congress in the Congressional Progressive Caucus joined with retiree activists from the ARA, Social Security Works and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare at the Capitol to oppose benefit cuts like chained CPI and show their support for expanding Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

“Social Security is a promise we must keep. The money our grandmothers, grandfathers, widows and children rely on should not be used as bargaining chips in any debate,” said Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who was among many lawmakers at the event. “Calculating benefits for Social Security beneficiaries with chained CPI isn’t a reform—it’s a benefit cut. Americans oppose cutting Social Security or shutting down the government to deny millions of Americans healthcare. They won’t be bullied into changing their minds, and neither will we.”

“Both current and future Social Security beneficiaries need to know the truth: The chained CPI is not some harmless, technical change. It’s a benefit cut,” said the ARA’s Coyle.

The AFT is working to address the federal budget by advocating for generating revenue through tax reform but strongly opposing cuts to Social Security or Medicare [Adrienne Coles/Alliance for Retired Americans]

October 25, 2013