Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva released the following statement today responding to recent reports that "chained CPI," a proposal to cut Social Security benefits in the guise of making technical adjustments to the program, remains a potential feature of any long-term or year-end budget deal.
"When more than half of my House Democratic colleagues signed the Feb. 15 letter I led in opposition to Social Security benefit cuts, we thought we'd spoken loudly and clearly enough. The fact that chained CPI is still on the table seems like a bad April Fool's joke.
"Military and veteran families would be some of the hardest hit if certain austerity fans get their way. Military veterans and their spouses and surviving family members shouldn't be asked, let alone told, to carry any more of our country's burden than they already have. Opposing Social Security benefit cuts is in line with the overwhelming majority of public opinion. Cutting Social Security -- rather than closing outdated corporate tax loopholes or bringing our tax rates in line with reality -- has become an ideological crusade. I'm declaring here and now that I won't be a part of it, and I invite my colleagues to join me."
As reported March 29 in Forbes:
Several veterans' organizations have come out against [chained CPI], including Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), AMVETs and the Blinded Veterans Association. These groups say that a chained CPI doesn't take into account the fact that most disabled veterans spend their benefits on medical care and necessities like food and gas -- costs that have not substantially dropped in recent years.
These veterans could have one or more disabling injuries, such as chronic pain, an amputated limb, or post-traumatic stress disorder. "They're not living the high life," Raymond Kelley, legislative director for Veterans of Foreign Wars, told me.
Among those who would see a reduction in VA benefits with a chained CPI are 3.2 million disabled veterans, 310,000 low-income veterans who receive a pension and 350,000 surviving spouses and children.
AARP calculates that a 30-year-old veteran of the Iraq or Afghanistan war who has no children and is 100 percent disabled would likely lose about $100,000 in disability compensation by age 75 (calculated in today's dollars), compared with benefits under the current cost-of-living formula. Over a 10-year period, 23 million veterans would lose $17 billion in compensation and pension benefits, according to AARP calculations.You can read the full analysis at http://bit.ly/13MsB0p.