Like most, I have an strong interest in opposing Obama's proposed Social Security benefit cuts - the chained CPI. My elderly Mom is on Social Security, and, one day not too distant, I will be on Social Security as well. Or so I hope.
Anyway, I have been writing and calling my Congressman, John Yarmuth, urging him to oppose Social Security benefit cuts and to do so in a public manner. However, when it came to my two U.S. Senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, I first inquired where they stand on Obama's chained CPI proposal. So far, the only one to answer me at all is Senator Rand Paul.
Here is a copy of the email that I received on my inquiry:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the proposed changes to Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue.Several things that I noted in this letter:
Annual COLAs are calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and based on the inflation measuring formula specified in the Social Security Act. Under the current formula, beneficiaries were given a 1.7 percent COLA in their payments starting in January 2013.
Social Security, Medicare and Veterans' COLAs have long been subjected to discussion of reform during budgetary debates. Most recently, President Obama proposed a change in the current COLA formula to the "chained consumer price index for all urban consumers" model, which is commonly referred to as "chained CPI," in his Fiscal Year 2014 budget plan.
Unlike the current COLA formula, chained CPI takes into account the consumer's response to price changes. For instance, if the price of a particular type of apples increased, one might purchase a cheaper type of apple or purchase a completely different fruit. Under this illustration, chained CPI would show a slower rate of inflation and consequently provide smaller COLAs and Social Security payments to beneficiaries.
As President Obama's budget does little to reduce the national debt and would increase taxes on struggling families, I will oppose this plan should it come before the Senate for a vote. That being said, we must recognize that the combination of massive debt, fewer active workers, and more retirees has left Social Security and Medicare in a fragile condition. I would only support changes regarding Social Security during the 113th Congress that would apply to younger Americans who have time to plan for the future and permanently ensure the solvency of Social Security.
Again thank you for sharing your concerns with me. Rest assured I am committed to balancing the federal budget, cutting wasteful spending, and stopping the use of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds so we can keep our promises to those who rely on its benefits.
Rand Paul, MD
United States Senator
1. Chained CPI is a gift to Republicans from Obama, but Paul is saying "No Thanks!" So Obama's gambit of cutting benefits to the elderly didn't buy him any gratitude from Mr. Tea Party Senator.
2. Paul wants to have his cake and eat it too. Social Security is in "fragile" condition, and it needs fixing, but he implies that Obama is not doing enough to "ensure the solvency" of Social Security. This is from the Republican play book of 2010 when Medicare cuts were used to attack Democrats as heartless to the elderly.
3. Paul wants to eliminate Social Security for future leaches like me.
I'm not surprised by any of the above, except that Paul at least has taken the time to respond to my email and state his intentions publicly. I expect McConnell will probably have a similar position to Paul's. Republicans are not exactly original thinkers, and if Obama proposes something, McConnell will be against it. I'm just not sure what the exact wording of McConnell's response will be to chained CPI is all. Unfortunately, Yarmuth has not responded to my repeated requests. In fact, Yarmuth's silence on chained CPI is splitting my eardrums.