Q: Can you clarify for me very clearly? Is the president open to raising the eligibility age for Medicare?That "technical change" might be technical, but it's also a benefits cut. In case you need a refresher on what this is, it's a new formula for calculating the cost of living, a stingier one that will reduce benefits for Social Security beneficiaries and veterans pensions. It's supposedly a more exact way of indexing consumer prices, but it's also doesn't account for how elderly and poor people spend their money. It's a tax hike, too, if legislators choose to apply it that way since tax brackets are indexed to inflation, as well. It would save the government something like $200 billion over the next 10 years. It would take away $112 billion from the pockets of Social Security recipipents and $25 billion in veteran's benefits in the next decade.
MR. CARNEY: No.
Q: Absolutely not?
MR. CARNEY: The president’s made clear that we don’t believe that that’s the right policy to take. [...]
Q: What about reducing the annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients?
MR. CARNEY: Again, as part of a big deal, part of a comprehensive package that reduces our deficit and achieves that $4 trillion goal that was set out by so many people in and outside of government a number of years ago, he would consider the hard choice that includes the so-called chained CPI — in fact, he put that on the table in his proposal — but not in a cherry-picked or piecemeal way. [...]
He has put forward, as a technical change, as part of a big deal—and it’s on the table that he put forward to the speaker of the House. [...] But as part of that deal, a technical change in the so-called CPI is possible and is on offer as part of a big deal.
We've had promises from President Obama that the most vulnerable would be protected from the hits. But here's the thing: half of Social Security recipients would qualify as vulnerable, including the majority of older women. That shows just one problem with the idea of this as a budget savings—by the time all of the people who would be hurt most by it are protected, any savings would be drastically reduced.
President Obama's big deal is mostly a start at chipping away at the New Deal.