Social Security News, Tuesday 4-16-13


SSW/SSSC mention


Fox 5 (DC)

Benjamin Veghte on Fox 5 to discuss Chained CPI in President Obama's budget


Social Security Works' Research Director Benjamin Veghte explains why the President's proposed Social Security cuts--the Chained CPI--would be damaging for everyone who depends on Social Security, now and in the future.


New York Times (NAT)

Congress Is Socially Insecure



But if you take it in concert with the rest of the budget, Obama’s proposal does speak, in a very modest way, to the fact that this country currently spends a ton of its resources on the elderly and relatively little on the young. I’d trade a dramatic new commitment to funding quality early childhood education for a change in the way cost-of-living increases are computed for Social Security, as long as the oldest and neediest of the recipients are protected.


National Journal (NAT)

‘Chained CPI’ Could Hit Middle-Class Retirees Hardest

Nancy Cook


When President Obama proposed so-called chained CPI in his 2014 budget, he outraged his Democratic base, the labor unions, and the AARP. Republicans weren’t bowled over by the idea, either. They appreciated it as an opening salvo at reducing federal spending, but hardly thought it went far enough in overhauling entitlement programs.


National Journal (NAT)

Democrats Risk Alienating Young Voters by Opposing Cuts in Entitlement Spending

Charlie Cook


My National Journal colleague Ron Brownstein wrote a column for last week’s magazine that I thought was the most important piece of the week. In it, he argues that “large portions of the Democratic base still don’t understand the political and economic dynamics of the party’s changing electoral coalition.” Brownstein is absolutely right.


LA Times (NAT)

How an Excel error fueled panic over the federal debt

Michael Hiltzik


In their analysis of growth rates of 20 industrialized countries, including the U.S., from the postwar period through 2009, Rogoff and Reinhart excluded data for three countries that had both high debt-to-GDP and high economic growth, which contradicted their finding. They tweaked other figures in a way that minimized overall growth rates for some high debt/GDP countries.,0,4073638.story



Kaiser Health News

Five Ways The President's Budget Would Change Medicare


President Barack Obama's fiscal 2014 budget includes a variety of what he says are "manageable" changes for Medicare's 54 million beneficiaries as well as for the hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers that serve them.


Columbia Journalism Review (NY)

Medicare Uncovered: Figuring out the president’s plan

Trudy Lieberman


 You have to give the AP an A for effort, for at least trying to tell its huge audience about one aspect of the president’s major Medicare proposal. But when it comes to judging the quality of the AP’s story, a grade of C minus might be more appropriate. The piece conveys the nub of the president’s plan to raise premiums for some Medicare services but that’s about it. Not much context. The piece loses people in a fog of numbers that obscure rather than clarify.


Forbes (NAT)

The Social Security Changes You Can Expect

Richard Eisenberg,


You’ve probably heard a lot lately about President Barack Obama’s Chained CPI(Consumer Price Index) budget proposal, which would cut future Social Security annual cost of living increases, as I’ll explain shortly. But I’d like to tell you about other ways Social Security may be changing to remain solvent — and the one strategy for claiming benefits you might want to take advantage of before it disappears.


Daily Kos (NAT)

Poll: Public rejects Obama budget

Joan McCarter


While Democrats overall approve the Obama budget, with 52 percent approval, they disapprove of the chained CPI proposal at the same rate, and on this one are in agreement with 49 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of independents. And the people most likely to vote in 2014.


Salon (NAT)

Social Security cuts are inexcusable



The deficit is shrinking. How can Obama defend dismantling one of the country's most popular government programs?


Huffington Post (NAT)

Will Social Security Cuts Be the Democratic Party's 'New Coke'?

Dave Johnson


If there is one thing that the Democratic Party is "known for" -- their "brand" -- it is starting, expanding and protecting Social Security. It was the New Deal and its government jobs programs for the unemployed, investment in infrastructure, heavily taxing the wealthy and corporations, but mostly Social Security that created "brand loyalty" for Democrats for generations.


Campaign For America’s Future

“Divide and Lose”: A Bad Democratic Strategy For Social Security

Richard Eskow


If some pundits have their way, the new blueprint for the Democratic Party will pit generation against generation and ethnicity against ethnicity, fragmenting us into ever-smaller social groups competing for slices of an ever-shrinking economic pie.


Huffington Post (NAT)

On Friday, Kill the #ChainedCPI Cut to Social Security & Veterans' Benefits

Robert Naiman


At my local Congressional office -- Rep. Rodney Davis, R-IL-13, in Champaign, Illinois -- we'll be delivering these two petitions: "Cut Social Security & Veterans' Benefits? Cut the Pentagon Instead!" and "#ChainedCPI? For Every Social Security Judas, a Primary Challenge."


National Review (NAT)

The Chained CPI Trap

Reihan Salam


Essentially, the Obama administration is characterizing a significant tax increase on middle-income households as a concession to Republicans by linking it to a reduction in Social Security benefits that does not actually help the program become sustainable. The congressional GOP shouldn’t go for it. The problem, however, is that the failure of congressional Republicans to advance a more ambitious Social Security reform agenda — the kind that would actually benefit Social Security beneficiaries over the long term by introducing a pre-funded savings component and a stronger minimum benefit that would increase retirement incomes — has left them with limited options in countering the chained CPI proposal


CNN Money (NAT)

Retirement plan providers misleading savers, report finds

Melanie Hicken


Financial firms often encourage workers who are leaving a job to roll over existing 401(k) assets into an IRA also managed by the firm, even if remaining in the employer's plan or rolling it into a new employer's plan would be the better move, an investigation by the Government Accountability Office found. And, in some cases, they misrepresent the costs involved in an IRA switch.


The American

Why Expanding Social Security Is a Bad Idea

Andrew G. Biggs


“Expanded Social Security,” a New America Foundation (NAF) policy white paper by Michael Lind, Joshua Freedman, Robert Hiltonsmith, and Steven Hill, argues for expanding Social Security by paying each retiree a flat annual benefit of $11,669 in addition to their traditional Social Security benefits.


U.S.News & World Report (NAT)

Retirement Crisis a 'Looming Catastrophe' for Boomers?



"I'm not sure what would be worse," he added, "millions of elderly unable to house and feed themselves … or the intergenerational strife that surely would erupt if young people are forced to lower their standard of living to pay for our failure to act in a timely manner to avert this crisis."


On Wall Street (NAT)

Expected Fiduciary Rules Could Worsen Retirement Crisis, Fidelity Chief Warns



A top executive with Fidelity on Wednesday urged congressional action to stave off what he described as "a looming retirement crisis," appealing to lawmakers to pressure the Department of Labor to avoid an expansive redefinition of fiduciary responsibilities for advisors, among other things.



Baby boomers may die with college debt

Aimee Picchi


Baby boomers are easing into retirement, but some may find their golden years are haunted by student loan debt that could follow them until they die.


Boston Globe (MA)

Should baby boomers jump back into the stock market?

Todd Wallack


The adviser persuaded him to move money back into stocks and bonds — rather than holding so much in the bank. But he also helped Goldstein to focus on investments that would earn a steady income while ­giving him peace of mind. He has put about 40 percent of his money into dividend-paying stocks and 40 percent in individual bonds he intends to hold to maturity, and 20 percent in stock or bond mutual funds.


Think Progress (DC)

As Baby Boomers Age, Nursing Homes Face A Growing Labor Shortage

Tara Culp-Ressler


Direct-care health aides — the people who care for elderly Americans by helping them bathe, dress, and eat — represent the nation’s fastest-growing occupation. Nevertheless, as the Baby Boomer generation of Americans are about to enter old age, this health care sector is facing a serious labor shortage. That’s largely due to the fact that those positions don’t pay much more than minimum wage, even though they’re incredibly demanding jobs.


The Street (NY)

3 Tips to Ending Retirees' Long-Term Care Fears

Brian O'Connell


Be realistic. Many boomers aim to retire before the traditional retirement age, but one of the biggest challenges in retiring early is paying for health care without insurance through an employer and before Medicare benefits kick in. There are several options to help bridge this gap, but a health crisis during these years can affect your retirement income long term, so determine how you will afford health care during this period well before you near your planned retirement age.


Letters to the Editor


LaCrosse Tribune (WI)

Sue Guthrie: Change in federal benefits adds up


Using “chained CPI” would reduce  cost of living allowances by an estimated 0.3 percent per year. Because this difference would multiply over time, this change would result in estimated yearly benefits 3 percent lower after 10 years, 6.2 percent lower after 20 years and 9.4 percent lower after 30 years.


Citizen-Times (NC)

Chained CPI will harm older Americans

Letter: Martha McKinney


The chained-CPI assumes that if the relative prices of goods and services rise, consumers will substitute less expensive alternatives. This assumption may be true for young and middle-aged adults, but seniors are far more likely to incur medical costs not subject to substitution


Post Bulletin (MN)

Well-paid members of Congress take aim at Social Security

Letter: Robert Fenske

I find myself questioning the qualification of members of Congress to make certain decisions. Blessed with their sweetest retirement program, they are considering reducing my last $12-per-month Social Security increase, in the future, by cleverly recalculating the percentage of future increases.


St. Louis Post Dispatch (MO)

Seniors will feel more pressure with chained CPI

Letter: Donald L. Foley 


I’d have to thank David Nicklaus ("Inflation change will affect elderly; it’s no piggy bank raid," April 12) for, at least, letting his readers in on the meaning of chained CPI. But his conclusion that this modification to cost-of-living adjustments will have little consequence for seniors living on Social Security is cynical and mean-spirited. He provides the explanation that, "If the price of beef goes up, people eat more chicken." And according to Mr. Nicklaus, therefore, they need less cost-of-living adjustment. Of course, he fails to follow that logic to its rational conclusion.


Superior Telegram (WI)

LETTER: Hands off Social Security

Dennis Rahkonen,


Chained CPI” cost-of-living reduction would impose benefit cuts on Social Security recipients, with deeper losses over time. Grandma doesn’t deserve blame or punishment for our current fiscal mess. The senior-advocacy group AARP has an online calculator that allows folks to see how much money will be deducted if this scheme is implemented.




DCist (DC)

Smithsonian to Close Some Galleries Because of Sequestration


The mandatory federal budget cuts that went into effect earlier this year will start eating into the Smithsonian Institution next month, Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough told Congress today. In prepared testimony to the House Oversight Committee, Clough told lawmakers that beginning May 1, the Smithsonian will have to start cutting back on the amounts it spends on various functions, including maintenance jobs, gallery acquisitions, and, perhaps most importantly, contracted security guards.


Huffington Post (NAT)

Rural Elderly, Disabled Could Lose Low-Income Housing Subsidies Due To Sequestration



Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says 15,000 low-income elderly and disabled people in rural areas could lose rental subsidies because of across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect earlier this year.


The News Tribune (WA)

Sequestration fears spook local consumers



After Thurston County consumer confidence rose to a new high in the fourth quarter of 2012, it fell sharply in the first quarter of 2013 as a result of concerns about the federal government’s “sequestration,” the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that are set to be phased in.


Baltimore Business Journal (MD)

Cardin says sequestration is hurting small business



Sequestration is hurting small business, Maryland U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin told an informal town hall gathering of local business leaders and elected officials in Howard County at week's end, the Baltimore Sun reported.


The Buffalo News (NY)

Letter: People feeling effects of sequestration cuts

Wayne R. Robbins


Almost on a daily basis, we hear of more programs and grants being eliminated and people losing hours of employment as cuts are put into place. Any savings allegedly accrued by these “cost-saving” measures in the short run will ultimately be paid for by the taxpayers in the long run, not only monetarily, but in terms of opportunity.





Washington Post (NAT)

Republicans embrace Obama’s offer to trim Social Security benefits

Lori Montgomery,


“This means the Obama budget contains a tax increase on 10 percent of middle class taxpayers — anyone who pays the federal income tax,” the conservative Americans for Tax Reform said in a blog post. The group warned Republicans that supporting chained CPI would violate the ­anti-tax pledge of its founder, Grover Norquist. The Club for Growth, another group that promotes conservative economic policies, threatened to find a primary opponent for Walden. President Chris Chocola noted that in 2005 “it was Republicans who said no” to President George W. Bush’s more ambitious plan to overhaul Social Security by adding private accounts.


Politico (DC)

President Obama's budget: Impact on health care

Jennifer Haberkorn and Brett Norman


The health care sector saw some huge gains and losses in last week’s White House budget presented by President Barack Obama. It will not pass the Congress or become law, but the document underscores White House priorities. And if grand bargain negotiations resume this year, the document could become the floor, exciting some health players and making others nervous.


CQ Roll Call (NAT)

House Democrats Remain Wary of Chained CPI Strategy After Sperling Explanation
Daniel Newhauser


“If you’re talking about making cuts to seniors, to disabled folks, to children, to widows, widowers, to help take care of deficits, please don’t tell me to consider Social Security,” he said. “The last thing I want to be doing is putting on the table for cuts the benefits that my parents earned when they worked all their lives.”


Washington Post (NAT)

Obama budget starts underwater with public

Scott Clement


President Obama’s courtship of Republicans hit a critical point last week when he unveiled a budget proposal pitched as an effort at compromise. But a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds Americans’ initial reactions to the framework tilting negative, with broad opposition from Republicans and little public support for a key idea to reduce increases in  Social Security payments.


The Hill (DC)

White House struggles to rally House Dems behind chained CPI


There's no love of this particular avenue," Crowley said, describing the administration's argument, "but ... of all the avenues that are available, this is the least harmful in terms of what they believe the consequences may be down the road for the country." Still, Crowley was quick to stress that the chained CPI proposal "is not the position of myself, the chairman or of our caucus."

"We have more discussions to go," he said.


Washington Times (DC)

Spending cuts alone won’t save economy, Treasury head says

By Sean Lengell


This framework does not represent the starting point for negotiations but it represents a fair balance between tough entitlement savings and additional revenues from those with the greatest incomes,” Mr. Lew said. Mr. Obama’s concessions include a proposal to change the way Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustments are calculated. Some Democrats have pushed back at the so called “chained-CPI” policy, saying it would lead to smaller Social Security payments to many seniors.


Washington Post (NAT)

How out of touch is today’s GOP?

Greg Sargent


I already touched on today’s new Post poll this morning, but there are a bunch of numbers in here that really deserve their own post.

To wit: It finds that only 23 percent of Americans — that would be fewer than one in four — believe the Republican Party is “in touch with the concerns of most people in the United States today,” while 70 percent believe that it is “out of touch.” Among independents, those numbers are 23-70. Among moderates they’re 20-75.


Fox News (NAT)

Cornyn says Obama budget makes only 'modest progress' toward entitlement reform


Later on Fox, Sen. Dick Durbin, who counts votes for Democrats in the chamber, said Boehner simply dismissed the plan because the word “tax” was included.

He said Republicans “have to put everything on the table” if they are indeed serious about dealing with the budget deficit. “For goodness sakes,” Durbin said, acknowledging he has supported the chained CPI concept and that it could be part of the Social Security reform plan if it gives the program long-term solvency.



News Max (NAT)

GOP to Hold Hearings on Obama’s Social Security Cuts

Kenneth Hanner


Republicans are moving ahead to give consideration to President Barack Obama’s proposal to limit future increases in Social Security benefits, while Democrats continue to oppose the measure. As part of the budget proposal sent to Congress last week, Obama included a plan to use the “chained-CPI” as a more accurate measure of inflation in order to determine future cost-of-living increases for retirees, effectively slowing increases in their monthly benefit checks.


The Fiscal Times (NAT)

Congress Closes in on Social Security Cuts



Republicans are lightening up on their criticism of President Obama’s budget proposal and embracing his offer to trim Social Security benefits – an important shift in the budget battle as lawmakers move toward entitlement reform talks. Two House subcommittees will hold hearings this week to discuss changes to entitlements included in Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget, including chained CPI, which applies a less generous inflation measure to annual Social Security benefits, as well as raising Medicare premiums, reducing benefits for well-off seniors and increasing the Medicare eligibility age.


Capital (NY)

The new congressman from gun-afflicted Brooklyn is hopeful on background checks


"The president also made the observation in December that chained CPI is not something that many in the Democratic Party support," he said. "So I'm not breaking any news by saying I'm very troubled by the chained CPI provision, and the impact it may have on the seniors I represent and folks all across the country."


Newser (NAT)

GOP Leaders Like Obama's Social Security Cuts

Evann Gastaldo,


The hearings are framed as discussions on "reforms to protect and preserve programs for retirees." First up for discussion will be Obama's proposal to change the way inflation is measured when calculating Social Security benefits, a move that could save the federal government quite a bit over the long run while cutting benefits by just 0.3 percentage points a year. Also up for discussion: increased Medicare premiums and decreased benefits for seniors who are better off, and a higher eligibility age for Medicare.

View the full text of the petition here