President Barack Obama’s plan to propose reductions in future Social Security got bad reviews from at least two members of his own party Friday – the pair who represent the Quad-Cities in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, took a dim view of tying future benefit growth to a different method of calculating inflation. The president plans to include the proposal in the budget he presents to Congress next week, according to multiple news reports.
The proposal is part of a budget plan that projects reducing the deficit by $1.8 trillion over the next 10 years. The plan also would cancel the $1.2 billion in sequester savings that just began to take effect. The president also will propose cuts in Medicare.
The entitlement cuts will be especially risky for Democrats, many of whom campaigned last year against the idea of making fundamental changes to either program.
Bustos, who was in the Quad-Cities for a roundtable discussion at Black Hawk College about the role of community colleges in the economy, said in an interview that she is opposed to the cuts, particularly in Social Security.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” she said. “There isn’t anything I said when we were campaigning that I don’t continue to believe.”
She said she wants to ensure Social Security “remains strong, that it’s here for the generation now and for future generations.” She said the same was true for Medicare.
Loebsack also was in the area to meet with the North Scott Rotary Club and for an event in Davenport marking Community Development Block Grant Week. He also opposes the idea.
“The president should not be pushing to switch to the ‘chained CPI’. I strongly believe we must balance the budget, but not on the backs of seniors, the middle class and the most vulnerable,” Loebsack said.
The “chained consumer price index” is a method for figuring inflation that differs from what’s being used now. Many economists think it’s a more accurate gauge of inflation, but utilizing it would mean slower growth in benefits.
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The idea of changing the way future benefit increases are figured has been around for a long time, and it was part of the “grand bargain” that Obama and House Speaker John Boehner nearly struck last year. Many economists think meaningful deficit reduction must include entitlement reductions.
Boehner on Friday dismissed the president’s proposal.
Groups that have been the president’s allies at times also are opposed to the proposal.
Earlier this year, AARP in Iowa began alerting its members about the possibility of converting to the chained CPI.