President Obama’s 2014 budget includes a GOP suggestion that Social Security payments be calculated with a chained CPI, which would lower the cost of living estimates for beneficiaries over time. Sanders said he would vigorously oppose the “misguided” proposal.
Harkin said making any changes to Social Security benefits would send the wrong message to young people.
“This chained CPI sends the wrong message to young people. It exacerbates this concern of young people that say Social Security won’t exist when they retire,” Harkin said. “Young people need to be able to trust it and trust it will be there for them. The best way to ruin that trust of young people is to move to a chained CPI.”
Harkin said that a chained CPI disproportionately punishes older and poorer people who rely on Social Security payments as their only source of income.
“It will have real and negative impacts on our seniors and those who become disabled from service in our armed forces,” Harkin said. “It hurts most the oldest and poorest.”
Harkin and Sanders suggested that an alternative way to extend the solvency of Social Security would be to lift the taxable income cap. Currently, annual income of more than $113,000 is not subject to the payroll tax, which funds Social Security.
“This idea that we need to cut benefits in order to save Social Security are just wrong,” Harkin said. “There are other ways to do it.”
Sanders said lifting the cap would make Social Security solvent for 75 years.