Sanders: Shouldn't let GOP balance budget on the backs of veterans, elderly

“Let us be clear what this chained CPI would do, because I guess if you’re a Wall Street guy making millions of dollars a year … that’s what you eat for lunch,” Sanders said on the floor Wednesday. “So under the chained CPI, average seniors who retire at age 65 would see there benefits cut by an average of $650 a year by age 75 … $650 a year is a lot.”

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A chained CPI would change the way cost-of-living increases are calculated for those receiving Social Security benefits. Republicans have said they want entitlement reform to be part of any deficit reduction package.

Sanders said he wants to discuss reforms to Social Security to make it solvent but not during deficit reduction negotiations because he said the entitlement program has not contributed to the deficit since it’s funded by the payroll tax.

President Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) are working on a deficit reduction package to avoid the “fiscal cliff” at the end of this year when the Bush-era tax rates expire and sequestration takes effect.

Sanders said it’s time for the wealthy to pay their fair share. He supports the Democratic effort to let the Bush-era tax rates expire on income levels higher than $250,000 a year as a way to offset federal spending.

“The rich are getting richer,” Sanders said. “We have growing wealth and income inequality in America … and we’re going to balance the budget on the backs of seniors trying to get by at $15,000-18,000 a year? I think not.”

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