Social Security checks at the US Treasury. (AP Photo/Bradley C. Bower)
US Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Mark Takano, Congressman Mark Pocan, Congressman Rick Nolan and leaders of organizations that oppose President Obama's anticipated assault on Social Security went to the White House Tuesday to present petitions signed by 2.3-million Americans who reject the president's proposal for “chained-CPI.”
The "chained-CPI" scheme would restructure cost-of-living adjustments in a way that cuts Social Security benefits for millions of seniors and veterans.
Sanders has vowed to “do everything in my power to block President Obama’s proposal to cut benefits for Social Security recipients through a chained consumer price index.”
And he's got allies. Joining the senator and the House members at the White House were representatives of Social Security Works, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the National Organization for Women, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America, the Campaign for America’s Future and MoveOn.org.
They were joined by Damon Silvers, the director of policy for the AFL-CIO, who announced that if the president goes forward with a budget that proposes Social Security cuts he will do so "without cover" from the labor movement.
The advocacy is significant, as Obama has yet to formally submit his budget. Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, couples his outspoken opposition to the "chained-CPI" proposal with a message, "It's not too late to stop this."
It is the hope that Harkin is right that has inspired the dramatic response to news of the president's proposal. Americans really are, as Democracy for America chair Jim Dean notes, rising up in outspoken opposition to any cut in Social Security—but, especially, to a cut proposed by a Democratic president.
"Real Democrats don't cut social security benefits, period, and it's positively shameful that a Democratic President is leading the charge to do so," says Dean. "Protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits from cuts is a bedrock principle of the Democratic party. So, let's be clear: Any congressional Democrat who goes along with the plan the President is proposing and votes to cut Social Security benefits should be prepared to face the ire of the progressive base of the Democratic party and the primary challenges that come along with it."