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December 19, 2012

Why Democrats Must Break With Obama on Social Security Cuts

By John Nichols

Nancy Altman, founding co-director of 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 campaign 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.

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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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Submitters Bio:

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.

Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Nichols is a frequent guest on radio and television programs as a commentator on politics and media issues. He was featured in Robert Greenwald's documentary, "Outfoxed," and in the documentaries Joan Sekler's "Unprecedented," Matt Kohn's "Call It Democracy" and Robert Pappas's "Orwell Rolls in his Grave." The keynote speaker at the 2004 Congress of the International Federation of Journalists in Athens, Nichols has been a featured presenter at conventions, conferences and public forums on media issues sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Consumers International, the Future of Music Coalition, the AFL-CIO, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Newspaper Guild [CWA] and dozens of other organizations.

Nichols is the author of the upcoming book The Genius of Impeachment (The New Press), as well as a critically-acclaimed analysis of the Florida recount fight of 2000, Jews for Buchanan (The New Press) and a best-selling biography of Vice President Dick Cheney, Dick: The Man Who is President (The New Press), which has recently been published in French and Arabic. He edited Against the Beast: A Documentary History of American Opposition to Empire (Nation Books), of which historian Howard Zinn said: "At exactly the time when we need it most, John Nichols gives us a special gift--a collection of writings, speeches, poems, and songs from throughout American history--that reminds us that our revulsion to war and empire has a long and noble tradition in this country."

With Robert W. McChesney, Nichols has co-authored the books, It's the Media, Stupid! (Seven Stories), Our Media, Not Theirs (Seven Stories) and Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy (The New Press). McChesney and Nichols are the co-founders of Free Press, the nation's media-reform network, which organized the 2003 and 2005 National Conferences on Media Reform.

Of Nichols, author Gore Vidal says: "Of all the giant slayers now afoot in the great American desert, John Nichols's sword is the sharpest."

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