Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) on Thursday blasted President Barack Obama’s reported plan to cut Social Security by linking cost-of-living increases to the Chained Consumer Price Index — or “Chained CPI.”
Earlier this week, Republicans told the The Associated Press that Obama had offered to use the chained CPI metric to reduce cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients as a part of the fiscal cliff negotiations. Chained CPI differs from the traditional consumer price index by assuming that people will change their behavior and buy lower-priced items as costs increase. Compared with the current model, advocacy group Social Security Works says that a person who began drawing Social Security at the age of 62 would be receiving 7.32 percent less in benefits per year by the age of 88.
“Will seniors be pushed off the fiscal cliff?” Kucinich asked in a speech on the House floor on Thursday. “Social Security did not cause the deficit, but the White House’s plan to lower Social Security cost-of-living benefits could eventually reduce Seniors’ annual benefits by hundreds of dollars. The gimmick is called the ‘Chained Consumer Price Index.’”
“The Chained CPI works this way: As the cost-of-living goes up, seniors inevitably turn to cheaper alternatives,” the Ohio Democrat explained. “For example, if seniors usually eat steak but then can’t afford its higher price, they can switch to something cheaper, like cat food — and the cost-of-living calculation would be ‘chained’ to the cheaper item — cat food.”
“The ‘Chained CPI’ benefit cut will chain aging seniors to a poverty of choices, a lower standard of living, with cheaper products.”
Kucinich noted that that the Chained CPI was not linked to rising health care costs because that would actually cause benefits to go up.
“There is no justification to cut Social Security benefits,” he concluded. “No to throwing seniors off the fiscal cliff. No to a Cat Food Christmas.”
Watch this video from C-SPAN, broadcast Dec. 20, 2012.
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