After nearly two years of hard campaigning, progressives were relieved to find the Social Security benefit cut known as ‘Chained CPI’ absent from President Obama’s 2015 budget request. But it’s too early to rejoice in what the Washington Post erroneously called an ‘end to the era of austerity.’
That’s because the president’s $3.9 trillion budget request includes other benefit cuts that would be just as senseless and damaging as Chained-CPI — if not more.
The budget proposal calls for further means-testing Medicare, a perennially rejected idea that would essentially raise Medicare premiums for middle-income seniors in exchange for paltry savings for the program. The budget request also proposes ending Social Security disability benefits for anyone collecting unemployment, or so-called “double dipping,” that has been thoroughly debunked as a terrible idea as well.
What’s troubling is that, by including these benefit cuts in his request, President Obama is telling his negotiating partners in Congress that he’s not giving up on the foolish pursuit for a so-called ‘Grand Bargain.’ He may be backing off of Chained CPI, but he’s introduced two more potential cuts in its place.
We stopped Chained CPI and we can stop other benefit cuts like these from making their way into law, too. But we need your help. Will you please join us in calling Congress today to oppose any and all cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits — including those in President Obama’s 2015 Budget Request?
Further means-testing Medicare is not a good idea, nor is it a new one: Democrats have considered supporting it in the recent past. The reason is quite simple: Medicare is already means-tested and higher-income seniors already pay more. To further means-test Medicare, the lower limit of what could be considered the ‘higher-income’ bracket would have to dip into the middle class, increasing premiums for middle-income seniors. By making the program less accessible and affordable to seniors, means-testing (like Chained CPI) is nothing more than a benefit cut in disguise.
Perhaps even worse is the president’s proposal to end disability benefits for the unemployed. It’s nothing more than a coldhearted and misguided attempt to stop “double-dipping” advocated by the likes of the Heritage Foundation. There are several reasons why targeting this small segment of Americans makes no sense (about 117,000 of the 9 million Americans who receive disability checks also receive unemployment). But chief among them is the fact that being disabled and being unemployed are not mutually exclusive. You can, in fact, be both disabled and unemployed at the same time. And if you are, you’ll likely need greater assistance than just your meager unemployment benefits. The President should be advocating for the expansion of Social Security and Unemployment benefits — which have just barely, but significantly, kept millions out of poverty and participating in the economy — not finding ways to deny them that access.
Make no mistake, the President’s decision to put the kibosh on Chained CPI was due to the constant, vocal opposition to benefit cuts from activists. But the fight is far from over, and we need your help to demonstrate firm opposition to cutting Medicare and disability benefits — just as we did with Social Security.