Obama Social Security proposal panned in Mass.



Republicans and Democrats in Massachusetts are faulting President Barack Obama for proposing changes that would trim Social Security and Medicare benefits.

The changes, included in a federal budget plan released by the president Wednesday, would switch the way the government calculates annual cost-of-living adjustments for recipients of Social Security and other government benefit programs.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in an email to supporters that she was “shocked” when she heard of the proposal.

“Our Social Security system is critical to protecting middle-class families, and we cannot allow it to be dismantled inch by inch,” Warren wrote.

The proposed way of calculating benefits, known as “chained CPI,” takes into account changes that occur when people substitute goods rising in price with less expensive products. It results in slightly lower annual readings for inflation.

The switch would cut spending on benefit programs by $130 billion over 10 years. The administration said it planned to protect the most vulnerable.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch, both of whom are running in the state’s special U.S. Senate election, also criticized the proposal.

Lynch said if he were in the Senate, he would filibuster to block the cuts.

“I respect and admire President Obama, but I feel that the negotiations over taxes with the Republicans have forced him into a bad deal and he is going down the wrong road on chained CPI,” Lynch said in a statement.

Markey said the cuts not only affect Social Security, but also veterans benefits and disability benefits.

“I do not believe that is the path we should be going down,” Markey told reporters. “My goal is going to be to fight as hard as I can to make sure that the budget is not balanced on the back of the poor, the sick, the elderly and the disabled.”

Republican Senate hopeful Michael Sullivan also criticized Obama’s budget proposal, saying it increases spending on the backs of the middle class while reducing Social Security payments to seniors.

“This proposal does little to actually address the economic and budgetary issues facing our country and simply kicks the can down the road for real reform,” Sullivan said in a statement.

Fellow Republican Senate candidates Daniel Winslow and Gabriel Gomez said Social Security benefits should not be touched for those relying on the program or nearing retirement. — AP