Earlier this month President Obama released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014 including a shift to the so-called "chained" Consumer Price Index, a new cost-of-living adjustment formula that would slow cost-of-living increases, which would cut the annual benefits of seniors and veterans by thousands of dollars each year. Yesterday, Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Congressman Daniel B. Maffei (D-NY) and thirty-eight of their House colleagues sent a letter to President Obama asking that he reconsider his support for the chained CPI. The group of forty representatives argued that Social Security reform should not be part of budget negotiations, the chained CPI is not more accurate than the current formula, and cuts to Social Security and Veterans' benefits should not be used to pay for deficits driven by other programs.
"Fundamentally, budget negotiations are not an appropriate venue for discussion of Social Security reforms. Any reforms should aim to strengthen the program for current beneficiaries and extend its long-term solvency for future generations. Shifting to the chained-CPI is bad policy because it fails to accurately track seniors' and disabled beneficiaries' real expenses. The chained-CPI is not a technical tweak to reduce runaway cost-of-living adjustments. To the contrary, beneficiaries have gone without increases in recent years and are often managing meager household budgets," the members wrote. "Please stand with us as you always have to protect seniors, veterans, and disabled Americans, and let's dispel the myth that Social Security is to blame for the debt we now must reasonably reduce. The chained-CPI does not add balance to a deficit reduction plan, but it will cut the hard-earned benefits of millions of Americans."
Joining Reps. Deutch and Maffei on the letter were Reps. Matt Cartwright, Judy Chu, David N. Cicilline, John Conyers, Jr., Peter DeFazio, Keith Ellison, Elizabeth Esty, Alan Grayson, Gene Green, Raul M. Grijalva, Alcee Hastings, Rush Holt, Jared Huffman, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Marcy Kaptur, James R. Langevin, John Lewis, Alan Lowenthal, Stephen F. Lynch, Ed Markey, Jim McDermott, James P. McGovern, Grace Meng, Mike Michaud, Jerry Nadler, Rick Nolan, Chellie Pingree, Bobby L. Rush, Janice D. Schakowsky, Adam Schiff, Bobby Scott, Carol Shea-Porter, Albio Sires, Mark Takano, Paul D. Tonko, Juan Vargas, Maxine Waters, and Frederica S. Wilson.