Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-Mineola, a senior citizen and nurse, has joined 70 of her colleagues in the House in calling for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to be protected during the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations in Washington.
In a letter to President Obama earlier this month, Rep. McCarthy and her colleagues wrote:
“Making cuts to Social Security, veteran, disability or children’s benefits is a short-sighted economic policy that would perpetuate the myth that Social Security is a contributor to our national debt … While we strongly support efforts to reduce our federal debt and curb deficit spending, we do not believe balancing our nation’s budget should be done on the backs of seniors, veterans, the disabled or children.”
According to the Social Security Administration, Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus in 2011 that is projected to grow to $3.7 trillion by 2022, and is therefore not a contributing factor to the national debt.
Rep. McCarthy and her colleagues also put on record their opposition to basing Social Security benefits to the “chained Consumer Price Index” or “chained CPI,” which presumes that consumers will trade down to cheaper products when prices rise. The problem with this approach for seniors and those on fixed incomes requiring basic health care, they argue, is that:
“There is no cheaper option or substitution for rising health care costs, which are often twice as large for the elderly and disabled as are those of the rest of the population. Unlike routine discretionary expenditures, health care cannot be substituted or short-changed. Under the chained CPI, Social Security benefits would grow at a rate that fails to keep pace with healthcare costs.”
Rep. McCarthy and her colleagues instead called for Social Security benefits to be tied to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), which more accurately reflects the living expenses of the elderly by giving greater weight to medical care and housing costs.
“Using the Social Security Trust Fund to reduce the deficit represents generational theft and is the height of irresponsible, short-term politics,” Rep. McCarthy said today as debt ceiling negotiations continued in Washington.
“I remain committed to putting our country back on a stable financial path, but will continue to fight against misguided, political attacks on Social Security, Medicare and other programs critical for our seniors, our veterans, the disabled and the middle class.”