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Why Democrats Must Break With Obama on Social Security Cuts

By       Message John Nichols     Permalink
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Cross-posted from The Nation

There are a lot of complicated ways in which to describe the schemes being floated by President Obama and congressional Republicans to abandon the traditional Consumer Price Index in favor of the so-called "chained-CPI" scheme. But there is nothing complicated about the reality that changing the calculations on which cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients are based has the potential to dramatically reduce the buying power of Americans who rely on this successful and stable federal program.

So the word for what is being proposed is "cut" -- as in: President Obama and congressional Republicans are proposing to cut Social Security.

"This is a cut affecting every single beneficiary -- widows, orphans, people with disabilities and many others. It is a cut which hurts the most those who are most vulnerable: the oldest of the old, those disabled at the youngest ages, and the poorest of the poor. Perhaps fittingly, this will be done during the holiday season, when the American people are distracted," says Nancy Altman, the founding co-director of the advocacy group Social Security Works. "They will cut Social Security not openly but by stealth -- through a cruel cut known colloquially as the chained CPI."

This is what Democrats -- and most Republicans -- said during the recently finished campaign that they would never do.

If Obama cuts the deal, he will, in the words of CREDO political director Becky Bond, be engaging in a "massive betrayal" of his own campaign commitments, and of the voters who reelected him barely a month ago.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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