Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-05), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, released the following statement today after major veterans organizations announced their opposition to "chained CPI," a proposal to cut Social Security benefits.
"It would be against the most basic principles we hold as Americans to cut the already limited benefits Minnesota's veterans rely on through Social Security. Minnesota Veterans would be some of the hardest hit by cuts to Social Security benefits, known as "Chained CPI,'" Ellison said. "Our state is home to over 400,000 veterans. Together, our veterans make up more than 10 percent of our population. Veterans already face major challenges. Not only do they need physical and mental health care as a result of war, but they are more likely to be out of work. At a time when we should be doing everything we can to invest in getting our veterans working again, we cannot be threatening to cut their livelihood."
Ellison recently helped lead 107 House Democratic colleagues in a Feb. 15 letter opposing benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
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.