For those of us who took President Obama’s pledges of “hope” and “change” seriously, his administration has been a disappointment. But few of his concessions have been as painful as his recent budget proposal to cut Social Security benefits by lowering cost-of-living adjustments. The new measure—dubbed the Chained Consumer Price Index—would hit the most vulnerable people in the country, our seniors. The ranks of the retired have paid into the system their whole lives. Shafting them now is wrong.
Obama’s bad call makes him the first President to propose cutting Social Security benefits to seniors since the program was founded in 1935. Not even Republican Presidents have gone that far. The Social Security Act was a direct response to the disproportionate suffering of seniors and the disabled during the Great Depression. It is one of the greatest milestones to progress. We, as a society, recognized that the weaker among us should not be abandoned, that we have a responsibility to take care of them. That responsibility is not up for negotiation. Contrary to the hard right’s propaganda, Social Security is not socialism. It is a common-sense, capitalist strategy: Keep the entire population financially stable, and you keep the economy strong.