House Dem Leaders Balk at Obama’s Plan to Cut Social Security

from The Hill – by Mike Lillis – House Democratic leaders pushed back Thursday against President Obama’s decision to include Social Security cuts as part of his 2014 budget request.

Several top-ranking Democrats — including Reps. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Steny Hoyer (Md.), James Clyburn (S.C.) and Xavier Becerra (Calif.) — questioned the wisdom of altering popular seniors benefits in the context of deficit reduction.

“I think there was general consensus that all of that discussion should be something for the table on which we preserve Social Security and not really part of this budget,” Pelosi said following a meeting Democrats held with budget experts on the White House plan to reduce future Social Security benefits by adopting a new way of calculating inflation.

Obama’s budget proposal has infuriated liberals for including the chained CPI proposal, which would change the formula used to calculate Social Security benefits and lower payments over the long term.

Most of pushback from rank-and-file members, she said, stemmed from concerns that the Social Security cut appeared to be “subsidizing … lesser priorities” rather than bolstering the program itself. That could have negative consequences on future efforts to strengthen the program, Pelosi lamented.

“What may happen, because of this debate, is that lines may be so drawn on this subject as part of the budget, that it might prejudice people as an approach,” she added. “It’s too bad it’s in the budget.”

Hoyer, for his part, declined to weigh in on the specific policy put forward by the president. But the Democratic whip echoed Pelosi’s concerns about including Social Security reforms as part of the budget.

“We need to deal with Social Security outside of the context of the budget and deficit debate,” Hoyer said.

Becerra, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, agreed. Asked if the budget is the proper forum for Social Security reform, the California liberal was terse.

“No,” he said.

“Social Security has never added a penny to the deficit or the national debt,” he added. “Why you would take $230 billion through the chained CPI by cutting benefits for seniors, veterans and the disabled? To a number of folks [that] doesn’t make any sense.”

Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, piled on.

“I think Social Security should be a stand-alone piece of legislation that we all deal with in a way that’s separate and distinct from the budget,” he said.

As a caucus, House Democrats met Thursday afternoon to discuss the chained CPI proposal with two budget experts: Robert Greenstein, the head of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Damon Silvers, director of policy for the AFL-CIO.

Greenstein argued that the chained CPI could be structured in such a way that it would protect the oldest and poorest Social Security beneficiaries; Silvers warned that adopting the new formula — which adjusts inflationary updates for Social Security and a host of other federal programs — could harm beneficiaries.

He urged Democrats to seek other ways of sustaining the program.

Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, emerged from Thursday’s meeting fuming.

“If we’re going to talk about Social Security at all, it should be in a separate discussion [and] have nothing to do with the deficit,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said angrily.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said he would vote against Obama’s chained CPI proposal “in any context” and warned that the president, by taking ownership of the cut in his budget proposal, has undermined the Democrats’ chances of winning back the House in 2014.

“The proposal itself damns its future,” Pascrell said. “Seniors vote in even heavier numbers, proportionately, in off-year elections. So just looking at a political standpoint … I would think that this would be a damning blow to our chances of taking back the House next year.”

“When we’re explaining, we’re losing,” he added.

Pelosi was more light-hearted, suggesting that Thursday’s animated meeting was simply a natural part of the legislative process.

“It was lively and it was interesting,” she said, “and it was not the end of the discussion.”

-— Cameron Joseph contributed to this report.

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Linda S.
9 years ago

Yes, & on top of his income- V.P. Biden is receiving SS income (entirely legal too). So he lives on a 6 figure income, charges the secret service rent for the house they use to protect him, etc while seniors try to get by on $600 to $800 a month with the specter of cuts to medicare & social security hanging over their heads.

9 years ago

Why does O Bummer hate Seniors so badly? First, he delves into Medicare/medicaid and adds millions of illegals to the fund. Then he adds 157 new taxes and, for him,that’s not nearly enough money; he still wants higher taxes. Now he wants to cut Social Security and for those who do not have enough to live on, what is the alternative? Does he have plans for the poor when he prescribes this new way of figuring Social Security? He already took funds from The Stimulus funds to balance the budget of His White House. Do you think he could live 30 days on $600.00? For those Seniors who voted him back into office, I hope you are happy with what you got. For those of us who didn’t vote for him, we don’t like what you stuck us with.

Wayne Brannon
9 years ago
Reply to  Mariah

I agree with you, I really wish seniors would stop this voting of party racks and use their head. WE are in real trouble with Obama.

9 years ago

I do not view social security as an “entitlement” program. I have worked for 45 years and I was NEVER asked whether or not I wanted to participate in SS. No, it was TAKEN from me. And now they are acting as though they are doing me (and everyone else) some sort of benovelent FAVOR by returning a PORTION of what we could have earned had we been allowed to invest on our own. Seniors are now the largest voting block in the country. I pray that the results of these last two Presidential elections will have opened our eyes to the truth. With reference to Obama – fool us once – shame on you. Fool us twice – shame on us. We will never fix the system until we understand that there are no freebies – if the government gives you something it is because they took something away from someone else. The government has NO money EXCEPT what they take from US.

Bill Murray
9 years ago

As it stands now CPI is paid out by the Feds and is nothing more than a piece of Government candy for the politicians to dole out to pander for Votes. Here is my idea on how to save Social Security. Many of us have an Annuity to supplement Social Security. As long as we don’t take payments from the Annuity it continues to grow at a market or a guaranteed rate. I think if we reform Social Security to be treated more like an annuity the funds in our accounts would grow more while we work or defer taking the money. When we ask for a payment we “Annuitize” and the funds could be paid for a set minimum period, typically 20 years, at a fixed amount. I also would include in this reform that if the recipient passed before the end of his normal expected lifetime payout that any of the remaining funds be transferred to their estate for discernment among their beneficiaries TAX FREE. Think about it, SOCIAL SECURITY IS OUR MONEY!

9 years ago
Reply to  Bill Murray

Hi Bill,

Very good idea if there were actually any individual accounts in Social Security where all our “deposits” have been sitting over the years. However, SS isn’t set up that way. It’s a pay as you go system, where the taxes paid by current works are used to pay current retirees. Any excess, should there be any, is swept into the government’s operating budget and spent on a host of different things. The government issues special purpose IOUs, which are nothing more than electronic entry notations in the Social Security Trust Fund to denote the amount of money the federal government theoretically owes SS. However, these IOUs are not real Treasuries and have no market value. They are a “promise”, not an obligation, of the federal government to pay back into the SS Trust Fund any amount they “borrowed”.

What you describe is close what Chile has had in place for decades and it works quite well. That SS should eventually be transitioned into what you describe would actually yield individuals far more benefits than they get from SS today.

9 years ago

Obama’s “offer” of a chain CPI is merely a ploy to try and get the Republicans to agree to more taxes. It’s a bargaining chip, nothing more. He’s looking for a “grand bargain”, otherwise known as another capitulation by the Republicans to more revenues (taxes), by tangling a carrot (chain CPI), which he will pull away at the last minute. Please understand the larger game being played by this administration. This is all about more taxes to fuel more spending, which in turn is designed to grow the size and scope of government.

9 years ago

The coming election is not a Presidential election so the POTUS has no fear of losing and he can suggest something seniors will not like. The coming election is Congressional so Democrats are in fear of losing seats. I think this is a scam to insure that these Democrats will be reelected to Congress and maybe gain a few seats in the coming election. They may need the senior vote.

9 years ago

All you seniors who voted for this marxist president hang your heads in shame. You deserve what you are not going to get.For those who didn’t vot for him keep up the good fight.

9 years ago

I would like to know if there is anyone who is going to confront our governing officials with all of the things that are happening that are not supposed to happen in regards to the government making laws that only are for the people and not themselves? I would support that 1000%

9 years ago

I very much disapprove of the president and co-conspirators trying to take away benefits that my husband and I paid into all those years. Social Security is not welfare. It would be solvent if our government had not dipped into it. Now I know what it feels like to be robbed. Just never expected it from our leaders.

susan nichelson
9 years ago

I get $765 minus at least $100 for ins. My husband gets around the same. If we didn’t have my husbands retirement from the Navy (of which he only gets 1/2 of that) and his retirement from the FAA, we’d be screwed. Last night the called for a donation of $100 or more to help the party. I just laugged and said NO! They can start living within their means, too. Start emptying their pockets a little. Ours are empty all the way. I’m not giving ANYBODY one thin dime any more!

marcie rich
9 years ago

during odumbo’s first term ,he came on t.v. trying to pass something -stupid and actually said he could not guarntee our social security check the next month unless the bill was passed . i’ve been a nurse for 30 yrs, and treated more of the elderly the next few days in the ER . than i ever have . most all of them with chest pain, stress , worry and flare-ups of just their health problems and plain worry about how they were going to pay their rent , buy gros. and more importantly, their meds. it was the most cruel thing any prez -has ever done -threathing the elderly about their money they worked for -and i’m 73 and that includes me . 789. and change a month.i’ve worked since i was 14 — for tips til i started being eligable for SS withdrawal . threating the ole, sick and elderly -on T.V. that was the day i started despising ocrooko !! and borrowing from SS to send to enimies . he and his free spending hussy can;t get out of our white house fast enough for me !!

glenn stewart
9 years ago

I wish the senators and some congressmen had to give up some of their money for the sequester! president Obama and obiden should give their money back to the govt. and stop buying guns an bullitts to kill us!! this country is so messed up, Obama and obiden are the worst pres an v.p. EVER, IMPEACH BOTH NOW!!, OR WE WILL ALL DIE

John Lee
9 years ago

We paid into the program, it is not an entitlement! If Congress hadn’t dipped into it for the general fund and immigrants that never paid into it they wouldn’t have any problems. Lets start by cutting presidential parties, air force one, unreasonable benefits for politicians. First step, Mr president, and members of congress, your new retirement is Social Security. You make enough to have a great 401K, save for it. Your medical is Medicare, you should not be exempt from medicare. If you save enough money you can purchase additional coverage. It is time you all joined the American Citizens you represent. People are getting fed up. What if we all begin by staying home for one week……then if you don’t come around 2 weeks…then a month???? At what point would you realize who you work for??????????????

9 years ago

HOW in God’s name can seniors live on less than $600 and $800 a MONTH with the rising costs of everything else. TRY IT sometimes. Many people (especially those in politics) lives on that much a DAY… try it for 30 days. Then throw drug costs and all the other costs on top of that. If this is what they want.. to shove seniors over the cliff first… well they’re doing a good job ..

Just try living on $600 a month. And this is money that seniors ALREADY PAID INTO. This is THEIR money and it’s being stolen by the government.

SAD… PATHETIC… and is UNLAWFUL to steal.

Pat Skidmore
9 years ago

Leave Social Security alone!!! We have paid into it for years.None of us recieving it are rich,leave us alone.

9 years ago

Leave the social security seniors earned our pay.our leaders do not care about us seniors.we paid into social security so that we could have an income to take care of our selves.our gov’t leaders have got it made socialliving off of our tax dollars. They havebetter benefits than we do .we should all have the same.all should have term limits.

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