Obama Aide Won’t Say Whether President Still Backs Social Security Tweak

A year after he backed it to entice Republicans to negotiate

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In last year’s budget, President Barack Obama raised the ire of liberal groups by proposing a technical change to the way Social Security benefits are calculated. A year later, an aide wouldn’t say if the measure, known as chained-CPI, will be in Obama’s forthcoming budget for the 2015 fiscal year.

Speaking with reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, White House Council of Economic Advisers Chair Jason Furman was asked point-blank whether the president still supports using the alternative formula for calculating inflation to determine social security benefit increases. “You’re going to have to wait and just see what’s in the budget,” Furman said.

Obama aides said last year that the president only put forward the policy change—long advocated by Republicans—in a bid to entice the GOP to reach a broad-based fiscal deal. “It’s not the president’s preferred policy,” Jeff Zients, the then-acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, said at the time. “He’s willing to do it as part of the comprehensive $1.8 trillion deal that puts us on a sustainable path, gets us out of this pattern of manufactured crisis after manufactured crisis.  So the condition for CPI is that it’s part of a balanced, comprehensive package.”

Both parties admit that the prospects for any comprehensive agreement in an election year are grim, and dropping the proposal would have a political upside by shoring up the Democrats’ liberal base—which is calling for expanding social security benefits, rather than cutting them—before the midterms.

The Obama administration estimated last year that the inflation change alone would cut the deficit by $230 billion over a decade.

9 comments
RobertNguyen
RobertNguyen

The best way to "tweak" SS is to scrap the cap...

RobertNguyen
RobertNguyen

Demons of Jealousy - I command you to get out of my government.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

i wonder if the people who barely scrape by on SS think of the proposed cutting a "tweak"?

bveghte
bveghte

The chained CPI is not an "inflation change" -- it doesn't affect actual inflation. It is a benefit cut, based on an artificially low measure of inflation that underestimates seniors' living costs.

jmac
jmac

It would cut the deficit on the backs of whom?   We could just  lift the cap.  It would have minimal impact on high earners while closing much of the projected gap.   'projected gap".    Social Security pays for itself right now.  Even Reagan wouldn't have fought raising the cap as a tweak.


Let's let Republicans compromise on this one.   A compromise that won't hit those who rely on Social Security in their old age.  What a concept.   Even the new pope would be for it.  Reagan and the Pope.  Sounds conservative to me.  

RobertNguyen
RobertNguyen

If he touches SS in a negative way - I will STOP supporting him...

This is a social and enforceable contract with the American people.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

@bveghte  Yes, unfortunately cat food on an ounce for ounce basis is now more expensive than steak.  This substitution thing only works so far.  You don't sell your "paid for" house to move 1000 miles away to a "rent" place where you know no one because housing is 10% cheaper or everyone would be crowding into South Dakota.  There is a reason why some seniors want to go south and you can't put on enough layers to overcome thin skin when you get older.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

@jmac  Since the GOP/National Chamber push to eliminate defined benefit pensions in favor of Wall Street-controlled and manipulated 401Ks, Social Security may be all that way too many Americans have to survive either retirement or forced job loss as seniors.  The current business climate as basically made a true "retirement" into a luxury for the very few.  I just hope that some of the 1% are invested in these same retirement places as the bottom crashes out of the market.


So much stuff the rich covet only has value if some other rich person also covets it.  There aren't really that many uses for diamonds or even gold once you take away the personal "covet" part of the sales plan.  People looking for food and shelter don't buy rocks and a metal only suitable for coatings.

jmac
jmac

@ARTRaveler @jmac  Obama's new plan is called myRA - intended for people who do not now have employer-sponsored savings plans.  He said that while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn't help folks who don't have 401k's.


It doesn't help folks who will NEVER have 401ks/myRA.   Those are the people Social Security was set up for.  Plus some people just don't want to play the gambling game - and that's what the stock market is.  Here today - could be gone tomorrow.  Certainly was almost gone in 2007.