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Senator Menendez hedges on the Chained CPI

Here is the response I got from him following the email I sent the other day.  Menendez is a pretty liberal guy so if this is the best he can do, we’re screwed.

There are two things that Menendez should keep in mind. 1.) If in doubt, ask the actuaries for the data.  Modeling the numbers is not difficult.  Then you will be able to see if there is a cut and how big it is. 2.) Think about the generation that is between 45-55 years old.  We worked our asses off for this country with fewer days off or retirement compensation than most developed countries. Imposing a Chained CPI on us would be like an American version of a sumptuary law, forcing us to forgo goods and services we had planned on acquiring when we retired.  If we had known 30 years ago that a bunch of hard ass Republicans and media pundits would sacrifice us in order to keep their Bush tax cuts, we would have never put up with the surplus payroll tax.  It’s fraudulent to change the rules now.

We’re not stupid enough to believe this is going to strengthen anything, especially social security.:

Dear Ms. X:

Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to the use of the Chained Consumer Price Index (C-CPI-U).  Your opinion is very important to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to you about this important issue.

As you know, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a very important measure of inflation used by the federal government.  The current CPI does not take into account the changes in consumer spending patterns as consumers substitute more expensive goods for similar less expensive goods.  To get an alternative estimate of the effect of consumer substitution, the Bureau of Labor Statistics created the C-CPI-U for consumers, which reflects changes both in prices and the composition of consumer purchasing habits.

While the C-CPI-U may calculate a more accurate estimate of inflation that consumers face, some are concerned that this change will have the effect of reducing future Social Security benefits if it is used to calculate the annual cost-of-living adjustments.

I have not taken a position on this specific issue, but rest assured that I will keep your views in mind. I strongly believe that we must protect and strengthen Social Security because it is the main source of retirement income for millions of seniors.  Social Security benefits provide essential financial security to our nation’s seniors.  Rest assured, as I have done throughout my career, I will continue fighting to keep Social Security strong for generations to come.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.  Please do not hesitate to contact me once again if I can be of further assistance.  I invite you to visit my website (http://menendez.senate.gov) to learn more about how I am standing up for New Jersey families in the United States Senate.

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14 Responses

  1. The current CPI doesn’t account for changes to consumer spending habits as consumers substitute more expensive goods for similar less expensive goods.

    Either that’s backwards or Menedez is.

    Anyway, even the reversed phrasing, which I presume is what he meant, is utter bilge, it amounts to saying “Current infertility rates don’t account for adoption”, “Current death rates don’t account for remarriage”, “Current bankrupcy rates don’t account for panhandling”, etc.

    • If Menendes were to be told by constituents that they would never vote for a Democrat for Senator for New Jersey ever again under any circumstance if any changes of any sort whatsoever to the survival benefits are allowed to pass the Senate, would Menendes’ vote change?

  2. It’s deeply disturbing that they are considering a reduction in benefits rather than an increase! Although, considering that virtually NONE of those guys in DC have ever lived on anything close to the level of poverty many SS retirees exist on — it should be any surprise.

    They’re negligent SOBs.

  3. My senator, Sherrod Brown, is reputed to be the most liberal in the Senate and he has given qualified approval to this change. We are fucked.

    • If the Senate passes any changes whatsoever to SS/Mcare/Mcaide . . . will you really truly never vote for a Democrat for Senator ever ever again? If you really truly will not . . . then what is the harm in telling Senator Brown about your decision on that point, so that he can factor your decision into his decision?

  4. So, much for Democrats protecting Social Security, Medicare and the VA (Veterans). CNN is reporting that Obama says not to blame Democrats as we go off the cliff…ah, 2014 is getting closer.

    • Let’s hold hands and jump. Over the cliff we go! Let the Republicans take the heat for once.

    • Up until now, rasing taxes and cutting spending was always called “fiscal responsibility”, and pundits would sigh wistfully about what a wonderful would thing it would be, if only the vagaries of democracy didn’t render it impossible.

      Now, suddenly, it’s a “fiscal cliff” and almost as horrible in its effect as nuclear war or an asteroid strike, so catastrophic that we need to take drastic measures to stop it, measures like…raising taxes and cutting spending.

      What. A. Crock.

  5. Well, I called my two Senators. (Actually, I called their offices and got their phone-call-takers). I thanked Stabenow for having signed the Save Social Security Letter of 28. I said I voted for her on that basis and I expected whatever legislation happens to contain precisely zero mention of SS or Mcare or Mcaide of any kind. I said if any change whatsoever is made to any of these programs, I would “with a heavy heart” have to stop voting for Democrats and vote for Socialists instead. (In hindsight I should have just generically said “start voting third party”). They thanked me for my input.

    I said basically the same to Levin’s call-taker. But I had the presence of mind to remember to say first of all that the fiscal cliff “does not exist.
    It is just a propaganda scare tactic. It is just a re-set. I wasn’t any poorer during Clinton and I am not any better off now. So lets just hit the Clinton Reset Button.” And then I told them the rest of it, that if any change of any sort whatsoever to my survival benefits passes, I will not be able to vote for any more Democrats.

    Then I called Senator Reid’s office in Reno, Nevada. I told the nice lady first of all that I thanked Reid for having written the Save Social Security letter and said I had called my own Senators first but was calling Reid’s office because Reid was such an important Senate leader. I then said that if any changes to our benefits pass that I would no longer be able to vote for Democrats ever again. I then said that I really resented the way Obama has been pushing his Catfood Plan. “His what? Catfood Plan?” I asked her if she had heard of the Simpson-Bowles Commission. Oh, yes..she’d knew about that. So I said that a lot of Boomers call it the Simpson-Obama Catfood Commission. She said she had never heard that term before. So maybe I have planted a meme seed on fertile ground.

    Why did I not say “raise the FICA income limit ceiling to strengthen Social Security”? Because the very meme itself . . . “strengthen Social Security” is destructive. The Enemy launched that meme as cover for all their plots to weaken and destroy Social Security. Pelosi supports the C-CPI plan to specifically in her words “strengthen Social Security” for example. Simpson-Obama say the Catfood Plan is to “strengthen Social Security”. So . . . what was my “positive alternative” that I remembered to offer Levin’s staffer anyway? “Let the Bush cuts all sunset. Hit the Clinton Reset button.”

  6. I wrote Bob Casey Jr to tell him if Obama has his way selling hard working Democrats out for 30 pieces of Wall Street silver they no longer have my support. My other Senator and Representative belong to the douche-bag party so I didn’t bother.

  7. Why, I remember the triumphant headlines after the 2008 election: REPUBLICAN PARTY DEAD FOR AT LEAST A GENERATION. When voters who either knew him well and expected rewards or didn’t know him at all and expected a liberal Democrat believed Obama was going to TURN THIS COUNTRY AROUND! Well, no. He’s pushed very hard and very effectively in the extreme right direction. I’m not sure what can be done about it now, but you all should read Naomi Klein on drones over America to understand the mentality you’re up against: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/21/coming-drone-attack-america I don’t think making nice is going to cut it.

    Evil is as evil does and Obama and most of his ilk, including the “pretty liberal” Menendez, please explicate because I’m not sure what Bob’s done in the senate that you believe he’s pretty liberal, are evil personified. Menedez, btw, is another of the unaffected millionaires making decisions for the peasants(and a fantastic money raiser, which is why he’s chair of the DSCC). As Yves Smith has written, she’s heard this crowd talking about ordinary people when there are no recorders around and the tones are contempt and disdain. They don’t give a shit about our welfare. Truth be told, they probably believe we deserve to be miserable. We have to decide how effectively to deal with that kind of attitude.

    Me, if I could find a lethal and appropriately painful disease that only affected the political caste, I’d let it out of its box in a heartbeat.

  8. Oh, and I wonder if there’s any political strategic value in probing Republicans to see if SS can become their signature issue? They’ve offered outright bribes to seniors before, why not increasing SS payments? How delicious would it be to stick the SS sword right into the Dems guts? People have to get off the brand loyalty train. There’s no ROI. No pro quo for your quid.

  9. No one will stand in the way of the theft of trillions

    At best, Bernie Saunders will be allowed to give a rousing speech that will have no effect whatsoever on the hand over

    Drones over the US? That was news two years ago. It’s now a done deal and so NK is allowed write about it…

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