Protesters Seek To Break Social Security “Chain”

Ten demonstrators, one of them symbolically wrapped in a plastic chain, protested outside U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s office calling to “take off the table” cutting social security benefits.

They in particular took aim at a proposed new way of calculating cost-of-living increases for monthly social security checks: a so-called “chained CPI” (Consumer Price Index) that links purchases made over a period of months to seek a more precise accounting of changes in what it costs to make ends meet. Proponents say the change would not just produce a more accurate basis for increasing benefits, but would also help rein in costs in order to keep social security solvent. Opponents argue that the change would cut benefits too much to too many people and that social security doesn’t need shoring up right now. (Click here for a story detailing both sides of that discussion.)

The demonstrators spent the noon lunch hour Thursday at Elm and Orange outside DeLauro’s Third Congressional District office.

Paul Bass PhotoHenry Lowendorf and Megan Iorio (pictured) criticized President Obama for even raising the question of social security cutbacks in the context of budget deficit talks with Republicans, since social security doesn’t affect the deficit. They said instead of cutting benefits, the government should raise the cap on income that gets taxed for social security.

“That means that people who make less than $100,000 a year pay more of their salary into social security,” Iorio said.

Then she opened a package of Ironman brand decorative yellow plastic chain to wrap around fellow demonstrator Francis Baunlich.

In a statement released by her office, DeLauro agreed with the demonstrators’ call for lifting the taxable-income cap. She also agreed with their opposition to chained CPI. She cosponsored this bill to that end.

“The last thing we should be doing is cutting into seniors’ hard-earned social security benefits, especially when so many of them are already struggling to get by,” DeLauro said. “I have consistently opposed efforts to cut social security benefits, including moving to Chained-CPI. We should be strengthening social security by lifting the cap on payroll taxes, not punishing people who rely on the program for their retirement.”

The demonstrators were asked why they chose to picket outside DeLauro’s office.

Lowendorf said they want DeLauro to speak up more forcefully on the subject: “Stop being cautious. Speak. She needs to tell Obama, ‘Take that off the table.’”

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posted by: robn on April 25, 2013  4:26pm

I always assumed there was some rational method linking SS payment increases to something like the Consumer Price Index. Since the article doesn’t really go into why this amounts to a cut for seniors I ask neutrally, what is unfair about this? What’s the current system for cost of lving increases?

posted by: Allan Brison on April 25, 2013  7:30pm

Robn: Good question and one that should have been spelled out better. The short answer is that the chained CPI ignores the fact that seniors spend a greater portion of their income on Health Care than younger folks. By ignoring the area where seniors spend more money, they come up with a smaller cost of living increase, thus, in reality, cutting the benefits in real terms.

The chained CPI is, therefore, a thinly disguised cut. In our meeting with Rosa DeLauro’s staff after the rally, we were told that Rosa agrees with this analysis and is fighting to have it taken off Obama’s “table”.

A much fuller discussion can be seen by clicking “Click here” in the above article, below the first photo.

posted by: TheMadcap on April 26, 2013  11:03am

Aside from the fact that C-CPI is not a good way to actually measure inflation for seniors(and arguably the current CPI-W isn’t either), why it’s a cost cutting measure(read: budget cutting) is the fact no one is also offering a one time boost in payments to offset the expected future long term reduction in payments if C-CPI went through. Thankfully most of the Democratic party seems to be having a conniption over Obama proposing it, and the best part has been watching the stunned reaction from the White House. If I may quote Daily Kos:

“What’s craziest about this whole fiasco is how shellshocked the White House appears about it. It’s as if they expected to be greeted with rose petals for “making the tough choices” or whatever bulls**t they want to call it today.”

posted by: robn on April 26, 2013  11:18am


Sorry for being thick but I’m not sure I understand. If the CPI represents an average cost of living index for everybody at all ages, is it incorrect for me to assume that it balances out?; because older people spend more than younger people on health care but younger people spend more than older people on other things like child rearing, education, etc? Or are you saying that older people’s healthcare expenditures are so much more expensive than everything else that they spend more per capita than younger people?

posted by: HenryCT on April 27, 2013  9:37pm

Let’s not miss an important point the demonstrators were trying to make, namely that Social Security has NOTHING to do with budget deficits. Dealing with Social Security should therefore not be included in discussions about deficit reduction. To include cutting Social Security - it is generally agreed that the Obama proposal cuts Social Security significantly - in deficit talks is totally unwarranted. It starts us down the road to corroding all Social Security benefits and ultimately destroying the existing trust fund that holds our payments. This is intended to force people to rely on the stock market or similar for their pensions. The debacle of 2008 should warn us against taking safe funds and turning them over to the Wall Street criminals.