The Hill: Liberals hope to push Obama away from chained CPI

February 15, 2013

By Sam Baker

February 15, 2013

A group of House Democrats is trying to persuade the White House to back away from a proposed cut in Social Security – just like it did with raising the Medicare eligibility age.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said Thursday she's been talking to White House officials and trying to explain the consequences of the Social Security cut, particularly in combination with other changes such as increased cost-sharing for Medicare.

"We're hoping that they'll make the right decision," she said.

She credited a similar effort last year with pushing the White House to drop its support for raising the Medicare eligibility age.

"Our hope is that through these conversations and this information, we can do the same with the chained CPI," Schakowsky said.

The chained CPI would change the way Social Security benefits are calculated.

The White House has described it as a technical change – a more accurate reflection of how costs change and how seniors change their spending as a result. Press secretary Jay Carney said earlier this week that Obama remains open to the chained CPI, but not raising to Medicare age – a policy Obama had endorsed in earlier budget talks with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Chained CPI "is a benefit cut" that would "cause real pain" to seniors and retirees, Schakowsky said Thursday.

She said Congress should instead reduce the deficit by cutting Medicare's price for prescription drugs and reviving the public health insurance plan that caused so much controversy during the healthcare debate of 2009 and 2010.