FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 18, 2011
Republican Member of Super Committee Declares Opposition to Cutting Social Security Benefits of Current Beneficiaries
Rep. Fred Upton’s (R-MI) Stand Could Signal Support for Blocking Social Security COLA Cut Proposed by President Obama During “Grand Bargain” Negotiations
(Washington, D.C.) — At an August 16 public forum in Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) declared that current Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries should not face any reductions in benefits from the powerful 12 memberJoint Select Committee on Budget Deficit Reduction, also known as the Super Committee, to which he has been appointed. The Super Committee is charged with proposing $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by Nov. 23, 2011.
Upton said the following at the forum: “It’s critical…that the people that are benefitting today from Medicare and Social Security that they not see benefit reductions. It’s awfully hard to tell someone… who might be 82, that they’ve gotta go back to work, because their benefits are gonna be chopped. That’s not gonna happen. We’re not gonna allow that to happen.” [The entire recording of Upton’s statements at the forum is here, in which he also declared his opposition to raising the Social Security retirement age beyond 67.]
“We applaud Rep. Upton for his strong, common sense statement. We hope his public statement will encourage other Super Committee members and President Obama to similarly pledge to leave current beneficiaries alone,” said Nancy Altman, Co-Chair of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign. “This summer President Obama proposed cutting Social Security for current beneficiaries. The Campaign opposes all cuts to Social Security, whose benefits are modest but vital.”
During debt-ceiling negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner in July, President Obama proposed changing the formula used to calculate the annual COLA to the so-called chained CPI. This technical change will cut the benefits of those receiving Social Security today. After ten years average retiree benefits will be cut by about $600 a year, and after 20 years they will be cut by about $1,000 a year. [See analysis here] President Obama is planning to make a major speech in September that reportedly will include elements from this summer’s failed “grand bargain,” including this chained-CPI and an increase in Medicare’s eligibility age to 67.
“Social Security is a public trust. Slipping the proposed ‘chained-CPI’ into the Super Committee’s negotiations violates that trust. If enacted, this provision would erode the purchasing power of current and future beneficiaries as they age,” explained Eric Kingson, Co-Director of Social Security Works. “That’s not a ‘grand-bargain.’ That’s ‘grand larceny!’ Social Security does not contribute a penny to the deficit. Plain and simple, it should not even be considered by the Super Committee. Current beneficiaries should be reassured that they will not be injured by those elected to represent them. Hopefully Rep. Upton’s support can help get Social Security off the table.”
The Strengthen Social Security Campaign maintains a webpage that provides information about all 12 members of the Super Committee. It highlights the votes the committee members have taken on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and tax issues in 2011, and statements they have made about the issues. It also includes information showing the number of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in states and congressional districts represented by Super Committee members. The webpage and the Campaign’s main website will be updated regularly as new developments occur with the Super Committee.
The Strengthen Social Security Campaign is comprised of more than 320 national and state organizations representing more than 50 million Americans from many of the nation’s leading aging, labor, disability, women’s, children, consumer, civil rights and equality organizations.
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