“I don’t know how many members ran on a promise not to cut Social Security. Now, without any hard proposal to raise taxes on the rich, some are using Social Security as a carrot to get a deal. We cannot, and we must not play with the lives of senior citizens,” said Georgia Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) yesterday.
White House Director of Legislative Affairs Rob Nabors faced a room full of disagreeable House Democrats on Tuesday after presenting President Obama’s fiscal cliff proposal to cut Social Security. The President’s proposal to change the inflation index for Social Security benefits has many Democrats unhappy. Several took no time to voice sharp opposition.
Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) called the President’s proposal, “a terrible idea.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) called the idea “the wrong way to go.”
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) said, the President’s proposal is a, “Beltway fig leaf that I will never support, and I call on my colleagues to make their feelings known as soon as possible before this becomes yet another piece of conventional wisdom that makes things worse.”
“We don’t like it,” said Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA). “Why are you hurting the vulnerable seniors?” he asked.
Rep. Lewis said the cost of living adjustment proposed by the White House, “means that all current and future retirees receiving Social Security, including veterans and the disabled, would see a dramatic cut to their current and future benefits, and the cuts would compound over time… if the average Social Security beneficiary receives about $14000 yearly, then this cut to the COLA would represent a $653 loss by the time a retiree is age 75, a $1139 cut by age 85, and a $1611 cut by age 95, according to the Social Security Administration’s figures released in September of this year.”
“The people of this nation are depending upon us to be true to our word,” continued John Lewis. People work hard in America, and they deserve to retire with dignity. The reward of their hard work should not be a significant reduction in resources the longer they live and the more vulnerable they become. Something is wrong with this equation,” he added.
“Social Security is solvent. It is insurance citizens have paid into in good faith. They have honored their commitment, and the federal government should honor its commitment. We should not tolerate cuts to Social Security,” said Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY).
“Democrats have made concessions in these negotiations. We created $492 billion in Medicare savings, and in prior negotiations around the nation’s fiscal problems we offered another $300 billion in cuts. We have done our part. Why can’t Republicans do theirs?” Rangel continued.
President Obama and Speaker John Boehner have not spoken with each other since Monday. As Obama has trouble gaining support from his own party in Congress, Boehner has a similar challenge as Republicans are likely to find themselves voting on a tax increase as part of any compromise.