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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/27/13

7 Reasons to Take 7 Seconds to Save Social Security and Medicare

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A broad coalition of organizations, including the Campaign for America's Future and Social Security Works, is joining Sen. Bernie Sanders in a petition drive to resist cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. It only takes a few moments to sign; it's that easy.

This is one of the most important and urgent issues facing us today. Republican leaders are pressing for these cuts, even though they're opposed by an overwhelming 82 percent majority of Republican voters (according to recent polling by Lake Research). The President's budget proposal includes some of these cuts already, despite the fact that Democrats and Independents oppose them by similarly large majorities.

The threat is very real, and these cuts could take place with very little warning. On a personal note: I signed. I did it because a lot of people would suffer needlessly by the kind of deal they're cooking up. I did it because I think it's wrong to allow the privileged and powerful to over-rule the will of the people. And frankly, I did it because I'm scared. This deal could be done before most Americans even see it coming.

It's fast and easy to sign this petition. It only took me seven seconds. Here are seven reasons why you should.

1. Republicans are still demanding "entitlement cuts."

Some elected officials are saying there will be no "Grand Bargain" this year. But when it comes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the difference is purely semantic. Representative Paul Ryan, the lead Republican negotiator, is saying that a "grand" deal is unlikely this year. Instead, says Ryan, we should focus on "achievable goals ... which are already in the President's budget."

Ryan specifically cites "mandatory" cuts, which in government parlance means Medicare Medicaid and Social Security.

As Dave Johnson notes, the press has failed to report just how determined Republicans are to cut these programs.

2. Some of these cuts are in the President's budget.

Unfortunately, Ryan's right. The president's latest budget does include cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security: the chained CPI benefit cuts; $57 billion in increased out-of-pocket contributions from Medicare enrollees; $306 billion in reduced Medicare provider reimbursements; and $19 billion in Medicaid cuts.

No wonder Republicans like Paul Ryan see entitlement cuts as the "smarter spending cuts" which will help forge common ground between themselves and their Democratic negotiating partners.

3. The "chained CPI" is a deep cut to Social Security benefits.

The chained CPI is not a "modest tweak," as those promoting it like to claim. If it went into effect today, as both the President and leading Republicans have proposed, a person turning 65 this year would receive $658 less per year in benefits by the time he or she were 75, and more than $1,000 a year less by age 85.

For someone who retires at 65, the chained CPI is would be:

-- a 3.7 percent cut at age 75;
-- a 6.5 percent cut at age 85;
-- and a 9.2 percent cut at 95.

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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