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April 1st, 2013
Grijalva Calls on “Austerity Fans” to Denounce ?Chained CPI’ Social Security Benefit Cuts That Would Hurt Military, Veteran Families

Tucson, Ariz. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva released the following statement today responding to recent reports that “chained CPI,” a proposal to cut Social Security benefits in the guise of making technical adjustments to the program, remains a potential feature of any long-term or year-end budget deal.

“When more than half of my House Democratic colleagues signed the Feb. 15 letter I led in opposition to Social Security benefit cuts, we thought we’d spoken loudly and clearly enough. The fact that chained CPI is still on the table seems like a bad April Fool’s joke.

“Military and veteran families would be some of the hardest hit if certain austerity fans get their way. Military veterans and their spouses and surviving family members shouldn’t be asked, let alone told, to carry any more of our country’s burden than they already have. Opposing Social Security benefit cuts is in line with the overwhelming majority of public opinion. Cutting Social Security – rather than closing outdated corporate tax loopholes or bringing our tax rates in line with reality – has become an ideological crusade. I’m declaring here and now that I won’t be a part of it, and I invite my colleagues to join me.”

As reported March 29 in Forbes:

Several veterans’ organizations have come out against [chained CPI], including Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), AMVETs and the Blinded Veterans Association. These groups say that a chained CPI doesn’t take into account the fact that most disabled veterans spend their benefits on medical care and necessities like food and gas — costs that have not substantially dropped in recent years.

These veterans could have one or more disabling injuries, such as chronic pain, an amputated limb, or post-traumatic stress disorder. “They’re not living the high life,” Raymond Kelley, legislative director for Veterans of Foreign Wars, told me.

Among those who would see a reduction in VA benefits with a chained CPI are 3.2 million disabled veterans, 310,000 low-income veterans who receive a pension and 350,000 surviving spouses and children.

AARP calculates that a 30-year-old veteran of the Iraq or Afghanistan war who has no children and is 100 percent disabled would likely lose about $100,000 in disability compensation by age 75 (calculated in today’s dollars), compared with benefits under the current cost-of-living formula. Over a 10-year period, 23 million veterans would lose $17 billion in compensation and pension benefits, according to AARP calculations.You can read the full analysis at

The text of the Feb. 15 Grijalva-Ellison-Schakowsky-Conyers-Edwards letter opposing chained CPI is below.


February 15, 2013

Dear President Obama:

We want to thank you for standing strong in the American Taxpayer Relief Act to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from benefit cuts that would jeopardize the well-being of millions of Americans.

We write to affirm our vigorous opposition to cutting Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits in any final bill to replace sequestration.  Earned Social Security and Medicare benefits provide the financial and health protections necessary to keep individuals and families out of poverty.  Medicaid is not only a lifeline for low-income children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and families, it is the primary source of long-term care services and supports for 3.6 million individuals.  We cannot overstate their importance for our constituents and our country.

That is why we remain deeply opposed to proposals to reduce Social Security benefits through use of the chained CPI to calculate cost-of-living adjustments.  We remain committed to making the changes that will extend solvency for 75 years, but Social Security has not contributed to our current fiscal problems and it should not be on the bargaining table. 

Similarly, we oppose proposals to increase Medicare cost-sharing requirements or to raise the age of eligibility.  Half of all Medicare recipients live on less than $22,000 a year – yet they spend, on average, three times as much of those limited incomes on health care as other Americans.  Raising their already heavy cost-sharing burden or increasing the age of eligibility doesn’t lower health care costs, it just shifts them to those who can least afford more financial burdens – seniors, people with disabilities and their families. 

A commitment to keeping the middle-class strong and reducing poverty requires a commitment to keeping Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid strong.  We urge you to reject any proposals to cut benefits, and we look forward to working with you to enact approaches that instead rely on economic growth and more fair revenue-raising policies to solve our fiscal problems.




Schakowsky, Jan

Ellison, Keith

Grijalva, Raúl M.

Conyers, John

Edwards, Donna

Barber, Ron

Bass, Karen

Bera, Ami

Bonamici, Suzanne

Brady, Robert

Braley, Bruce L.

Brown, Corrine

Brownley, Julia

Bustos, Cheri

Butterfield, G.K.

Capps, Lois

Cardenas, Tony

Cartwright, Matthew

Castor, Kathy

Christensen, Donna M.,

Chu, Judy

Cicilline, David

Clarke, Yvette D.

Clay Jr., William “Lacy”

Cleaver, Emanuel

Cohen, Steve

Conyers Jr., John

Courtney, Joe

Cummings, Elijah

Davis, Danny K.

DeFazio, Peter

DeLauro, Rosa L.

Deutch, Ted

Duckworth, Tammy

Edwards, Donna F.

Ellison, Keith

Eshoo, Anna G.

Faleomavaega, Eni F. H.

Farr, Sam

Fattah, Chaka

Frankel, Lois

Fudge, Marcia L.

Garamendi, John

Grayson, Alan

Green, Al

Green, Gene

Grijalva, Raul

Gutierrez, Luis

Hahn, Janice

Hastings, Alcee L.

Hinojosa, Rubén

Holt, Rush

Honda, Mike

Huffman, Jared

Jackson Lee, Sheila

Jeffries, Hakeem

Johnson, Eddie Bernice

Johnson, Henry C. “Hank” Jr.

Kaptur, Marcy

Kildee, Daniel

Kirkpatrick, Ann

Langevin, Jim

Lee, Barbara

Lewis, John

Loebsack, David

Lofgren, Zoe

Lowenthal, Alan

Lujan Grisham, Michelle

Lynch, Stephen F.

Maloney, Carolyn

Markey, Ed

Matsui, Doris O.

McDermott, Jim

McGovern, James

Meng, Grace

Michaud, Michael

Moore, Gwen

Nadler, Jerrold

Negrete McLeod, Gloria

Nolan, Rick

Norton, Eleanor Holmes

Pastor, Ed

Payne Jr., Donald

Pingree, Chellie

Pocan, Mark

Rangel, Charles B.

Roybal-Allard, Lucille

Rush, Bobby L.

Ryan, Tim

Sablan, Gregorio

Sanchez, Linda

Scott, Robert C.

Serrano, José E.

Shea-Porter, Carol

Sinema, Kyrsten

Sires, Albio

Slaughter, Louise

Speier, Jackie

Takano, Mark

Thompson, Bennie G.

Tierney, John

Titus, Dina

Tonko, Paul D.

Vargas, Juan

Veasey, Marc

Velázquez, Nydia M.

Waters, Maxine

Watt, Mel

Waxman, Henry

Welch, Peter

Wilson, Frederica


cc:  Speaker John Boehner

House Minority Leader Pelosi

Senate Majority Leader Reid

Senate Minority Leader McConnell

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