Who Will Hold the Line if Dems Offer Cuts to Social Security, Try for 'Grand Bargain'?

With plenty of evidence of Democrats’ propensity to cave to Republican “hostage politics” in recent years, concerned citizens, progressive members of Congress, and advocacy groups were taking no chances on Thursday as they formed a “human-chain” outside the Capitol Building in Washington to declare their opposition to any cuts to vital social programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Amid an ongoing shutdown of the federal government, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus held a news conference and after joined hands with members of the Alliance for Retired Americans, Social Security Works and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in order to protest the idea of a “Grand Bargain” between Democrats and Republicans that has been repeatedly floated over a series of budget battles in recent years.

“Folks are scurrying around here, trying to figure out how to end the shutdown. And sometimes I’ve heard [Democrats] say ‘You know, maybe we should give them something.’” said Representative Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “Some folks say ‘We’ll give you Chained CPI.’”

“No way! No way!” Ellison then shouted. “Open up the government. Put a clean CR on. Stop this austerity… The way we hang together here is we make sure nobody, but nobody, gets sold out in exchange for Republicans doing their job, which is funding the government.”

As Emily Foster, a fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future’s, explains, “The CPI, or consumer price index, is a calculation of how prices change over time. It is used to make cost-of-living adjustments in programs like veterans’ benefits, food stamps, and Social Security. The premise behind the ‘chained CPI’ is that when prices rise, people settle for cheaper substitutes. Because of this, cost-of-living adjustments under the chained CPI would be lower than the actual standard of living, cutting benefits for citizens who need them the most”

Pitched to the American people as an “adjustment” of the program, however, economists and experts call it for what it is: a cut to benefits.