"The chained CPI has been referred to by Republicans and some Democrats in Washington as a ‘minor tweak,' but let's be clear: for millions of disabled veterans and seniors living on fixed incomes, the chained CPI is a significant benefit cut that will make it harder for permanently disabled veterans and the elderly to make ends meet," Sanders said in a statement Friday.
Sanders sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidMcCain files B amendment to boost defense spending Dems to GOP: Cancel Memorial Day break Sanders fundraises for Feingold in Wisconsin Senate race MORE (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Healthcare: Momentum on mental health? | Zika bills head to conference | Only 10 ObamaCare co-ops left Trump outlines ‘America First’ energy plan Senators hope for deal soon on mental health bill MORE (R-Ky.), Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse GOP faces dilemma on spending bills Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief fears sequestration's return MORE (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday, ahead of the Veterans Day holiday on Sunday. In the letter, he said wouldn’t support legislation that used a chained CPI to determine benefits. Instead, Sanders supports a proposal that would raise benefits for people with disabilities and seniors by accounting for the greater inflation in costs for healthcare and prescription drugs.
In the letter, he cited the Social Security Administration, which said enacting the chained CPI would mean that permanently disabled veterans who started receiving VA disability benefits at age 30 would see their benefits cut by more than $1,300 a year at age 45; $1,800 a year at age 55; and $2,260 a year at age 65.
Fifty organizations representing veterans, seniors and people with disabilities signed onto the letter.
“We all agree the nation’s debt problem must be addressed,” the letter stated. “… Americans do not believe it should be addressed by increasing the burdens on our oldest and most vulnerable citizens. We urge you to protect their hard-earned benefits by opposing the chained CPI and supporting a more accurate inflation measurement for the elderly, which factors in the disproportionate amount seniors spend on healthcare. This is crucially important not only for seniors, but for their children and grandchildren as well.”
Lawmakers are talking about a "grand bargain" to reduce the deficit and simplify the tax codes. Sanders, a long-time advocate for not cutting Social Security benefits, has expressed concern that changes to the Social Security program could be included in a major package.