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Progressives solidify opposition to changes on Social Security, Medicare


If President Barack Obama is feeling the heat from the right about the IRS, AP and Benghazi, he won’t find much comfort by turning to his base.

Despite declaring on Friday that “others may get distracted by chasing every fleeting issue that passes by, but the middle class will always be my number one focus,” the president finds himself under fire from his progressive allies in Congress.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), for example, took to Twitter recently to declare he’s taking on the president.

I will do everything in my power to block @barackobama’s proposal to cut benefits for #SocialSecurity recipients through a #chainedCPI.

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 8, 2013

And Sander’s is not alone in his opposition to the president’s plan to use a “chained” consumer price index (CPI) to lower cost-of-living adjustments paid out by Social Security.

“The homeless, the helpless and the hapless in our society, they’re the last that ought to be taking it in the next for deficit reduction,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) at a recent news conference.

“CPI was originally a Boehner-McConnell demand,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois). “It was a bad idea then and it’s a really bad idea now.”

In addition, the president is also offering $400 billion in Medicare cuts over the next ten years. All this as the deficit shrinks faster than expected.

“Don’t tell anybody, Ed, but I think we’re going to beat the president on this,” Sanders told Ed Schultz on May 11 edition of The Ed Show on msnbc. “When the middle class is disappearing and the gap between the rich and everybody else is growing wider, you don’t assault the middle class by cutting Social Security and benefits for disabled veterans.”

Sanders also said that Social Security has not added one nickel to the deficit and has nothing to do with deficit reduction. He says Social Security today has a $2.6 trillion surplus and is paid for independently by the payroll tax.

Instead of cutting benefits, Sanders recommends lifting the cap on taxable income on Social Security from $113,000 to $250,000 to make it “strong for the next 75 years,” an idea Obama supported as a candidate in 2008.

“I think the president continues for some very, very strange idea to keep believing that if he makes major concessions to the Republicans that somehow he’s going to get something back in return,” Sanders said. “I really don’t know why he continues to think that. It hasn’t worked up to now.”

Progressives solidify opposition to changes on Social Security, Medicare