Langevin Protests Cuts to Social Security

Jul 2, 2013 Issues: Social Security

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today joined Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman David Cicilline and the Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans to protest the use of a formula known as the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) to calculate Social Security benefits. Chained CPI, which has been proposed as a deficit-reduction measure, would reduce Social Security Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) by assuming that when prices on goods and services rise, beneficiaries substitute with less expensive alternatives.

“Seniors have earned their retirement benefits by contributing to the Trust Fund over their lifetimes, and any attempt to privatize Social Security, increase the retirement age or cut benefits is simply unacceptable,” Rep. Langevin said. “This change would have a dramatic effect on Social Security benefits, taking money away from some of our most vulnerable Americans who are already living on fixed incomes.”

Chained CPI does not take certain costs into consideration, including health care, which cannot be substituted yet accounts for a high percentage of many seniors’ budgets. An average earner retiring at age 65 would lose more than $6,000 in benefits over 15 years if the chained CPI were adopted.

“Social Security doesn’t contribute to the deficit, and any discussion regarding its solvency should take place separately,” Langevin continued. “Over the long term, I believe we can make adjustments to the program in a responsible way without harming beneficiaries.”

Langevin strongly opposed this proposed cut, sharing his position with President Obama and co-sponsoring the Preserving Our Promise to Seniors Act, which would phase out the Social Security Tax Cap and base COLAs on the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly. If the cap were phased out, Social Security would achieve 75-year solvency.

AARP Rhode Island Director Kathleen Connell said the state delegation is unparalleled in their support of seniors, calling them “our Social Security heroes.” John Pernorio, president of the Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans, also thanked Rep. Langevin for his continued support of Rhode Island seniors.

“Our Congressional delegation has kept its promise to stand with and support Rhode Island seniors, disabled and veterans,” Pernorio said. “Social Security is not a handout and does not contribute to the deficit. Seniors deserve a decent standard of living, and we deserve the benefits that we paid for.”