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Dec. 18, 2012

Social Security Proposal for Fiscal Cliff Misses Obvious: Tax Wall Street, Not Grandma

Statement by Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

It appears the White House is ready to ship senior citizens down a river.

According to credible press reports, the White House is considering the idea of changing the way Social Security benefit increases are indexed to inflation. The Obama administration is proposing calculating inflation adjustments according to the “chained” consumer price index (CPI), which considers modifications in consumer spending as the prices of goods and services fluctuate, instead of calculating inflation adjustments according to the consumer price index (CPI) for wage and clerical workers, as is the current practice.

Don’t let the wonkiness of this policy proposal fool you. In real terms, this change would mean cuts to current Social Security beneficiaries, and it would amount to huge cuts over time.

It is profoundly immoral that the administration is entertaining this conversation when it could generate far more revenue with a financial speculation tax on Wall Street. Even a very modest speculation tax would raise more than $350 billion over 10 years – that’s more than three times the amount that is gained from the proposed tampering with Social Security benefits.

By now it’s not surprising that the Obama administration seems comfortable putting Wall Street’s interests ahead of Main Street’s. But the fact that the White House appears ready and willing to harm our seniors before considering adopting a financial speculation tax is truly deplorable.

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