News Release

Is Debt Ceiling Being Used as “Opportunity” to Cut Social Security?


In a letter to the president sent this Saturday, nine Senators wrote: “The inclusion of Social Security in the debt renegotiations is extremely troubling. Social Security has contributed nothing to the debt and yet seniors face potential cuts to their earned benefits. … Our bedrock social safety net programs should not be adjusted as part of some deal — any changes to improve the solvency of these programs should stand on their own merits and be considered separately.”

JANE HAMSHER, firedoglake at
Hamsher, founder of the blog FireDogLake, noted that Obama said there was an “opportunity” to deal with Social Security in his news conference today. She recently wrote: “Nobody ever says they want to ‘cut’ Social Security or Medicare. They want to ‘save’ it. Just ask [Wall Street operative] Pete Peterson, he wants to ‘save’ it. … From the moment he took the White House, the president has wanted to cut Social Security benefits. David Brooks reported that three administration officials called him to say Obama ‘is extremely committed to entitlement reform and is plotting politically feasible ways to reduce Social Security as well as health spending’ in March of 2009.”

ERIC KINGSON, erkingso at, also via Don Owens, dowens at, and Josh Rosenblum, jrosenblum at
Kingson is co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign and a professor of social work at Syracuse University. He said today: “You don’t strengthen Social Security by cutting the cost of living adjustment, raising the retirement age and cutting protections for today’s and tomorrow’s beneficiaries. And you do cut it by raiding the Social Security Trust Funds, currently $2.7 trillion, that hard-working Americans and their employers have contributed to build up as a cushion for the benefits of the next generation of retirees.”

Vice president for income security policy for the National Academy of Social Insurance, Reno said today: “Shifting to a special price index for the elderly would increase the COLA [Cost-of-Living Adjustment] for elderly and disabled Americans, while shifting to a chained CPI-U [Consumer Price Index for all Urban consumers] would lower benefits for current and future recipients. The largest impacts would fall on the oldest Americans. Because Social Security provides an ever-greater share of elders’ incomes as they grow older — as pensions are eroded by inflation, employment options end, and savings are depleted — even a minor erosion of the real value of benefits is a public policy concern.” Reno co-wrote the piece “How Would Shifting to a Chained CPI Affect the Federal Budget?