In an address today at the National Press Club, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said a proposal floated by congressional Republicans would slash benefits for disabled veterans.
A member of the Senate Budget Committee and the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Sanders said deficits must be reined in, but not by taking benefits away from more than 3 million disabled veterans, many of them injured fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sanders' criticism was aimed at a proposal offered on Monday by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). He would combine massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid with new tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. The Boehner plan calls for a new method to calculate inflation by using a so-called chained CPI that would reduce annual cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients and, Sanders stressed, for disabled veterans.
"It is morally and economically unacceptable that anyone in Congress would propose more tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires and large corporations while at the same time proposing significant cuts for disabled veterans," Sanders said. "This is not what the American people want and it is not what must happen."
The largest cuts in benefits would impact young, permanently disabled veterans who were seriously wounded in combat. According to the Social Security Administration, permanently disabled veterans who started receiving VA disability benefits at age 30 would see their benefits cut by more than $1,300 a year at age 45; $1,800 a year at age 55; and $2,260 a year at age 65.
In addition to hurting disabled veterans, benefits for more than 55 million retirees, widows, orphans and disabled Americans also would be affected by the change in how to measure inflation. According to the Social Security Administration, a chained CPI would cut Social Security benefits by $112 billion over 10 years. The typical Security recipient who retires at age 65 would get $560 less a year at age 75 and would get $1,000 less a year at age 85 than under current law.
"What the election results were about and what poll after poll has found is that we must not cut benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The wealthy and large corporations have got to start paying their fair share of taxes," Sanders said.