Friday, April 19, 2013

Obama's Response to a Petition Against Chained CPI

I just received an email from the White House in response to one of the many petitions I've signed against the cuts to Social Security and Medicare in the President's budget.  I thought folks might be interested in reading it.
Dear Jonathan:

Thank you for writing.  I have heard from many Americans about issues affecting seniors.  Today’s economic climate further intensifies the unique challenges they face, and I appreciate your perspective.

My Administration continues to support older Americans encountering unfair treatment, financial hardship, or difficulty obtaining health care.  The historic Affordable Care Act strengthens Medicare by not only preserving but also expanding benefits for Americans who depend on Medicare every day.  The law has helped more than five million seniors and people with disabilities save an average of over $600 on prescription drugs in the “donut hole” in Medicare coverage.  Additionally, in 2011, more than 32 million seniors received 1 or more free preventive services, including the new Annual Wellness Visit.  To learn about help available through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, visit

The Affordable Care Act also helps prevent and eliminate elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.  Additionally, this law implements unprecedented measures to fight waste and fraud, and to improve the quality and outcomes of care for Medicare beneficiaries.  It ends unwarranted subsidies to private insurance companies, and takes important steps to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions, improve patient safety, modernize payment systems, and streamline record-keeping.  It also realigns incentives to reward medical providers for the value, not the volume, of their care.  For resources and information on how to prevent, report, and stop Medicare fraud, visit  To learn more about the Affordable Care Act, please visit
By protecting Social Security from risky privatization plans, we are preserving its solvency and maintaining it as a reliable income source for seniors.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included an additional payment to supplement Social Security benefits for seniors struggling to make ends meet, and I have called on Congress to extend this relief again.  Together, we will ensure all our citizens—not just a privileged few—can retire with dignity and security.

Finally, as we work to keep America’s promises to senior citizens, we are helping make sure older Americans can continue to enrich communities across our Nation through service and community involvement.  By expanding the Senior Corps and implementing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, we are creating more opportunities for seniors to share their knowledge and experience with younger generations.  For more information regarding service opportunities in your area, or to share your story of service, please visit

To find assistance for senior citizens and their families, visit or call 1-800-677-1116.  For help with Medicare, visit or call 1-800-MEDICARE.  Additional information and resources are available at  For assistance using internet resources, I encourage you to visit your local library or community center.

Thank you, again, for being in touch.
Barack Obama
Notice how the response doesn't even try to defend the policies he has been pushing such as means testing and chained CPI.  Specifically, on the issue of Social Security, he continues the false dilemma that the Democrats love espousing.  Democrats, especially Pelosi, have regularly tried to use the looming specter of privatization--which a Republican president couldn't pass with a Republican Congress, let's not forget--as a way to make cutting benefits appear to be the "only other possible option." 

The faux threat of privatization appears in both the House and the Senate budgets.  The Democrats promise us that they will not privatize Social Security as the Big Bad Republicans wish to do---even though the Paul Ryan budget contains no explicit embrace of such an approach.

The language of the President and the party leadership remains unconvincing.  As Michael Lind of Salon and the New America Foundation has argued, chained CPI is "privatization by back door rather than front door."  Weakening people's retirement security marks an attempt to push them on to risky 401(k)s and other private accounts that will enrich Wall Street on the public purse.

If the President believes that Social Security and Medicare are too generous and the payroll tax cap simply cannot be raised, then he should state his case.  I don't agree with either claim, but I have more respect for people who argue for their positions than for those who try to weasel their way out of defending them.

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