Nadler, Serrano and Velazquez urge the White House not to deal on ‘chained CPI’

Jerrold Nadler. (Jerrold Nadler, via flickr)
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A coalition of progressive groups and left-leaning lawmakers is trying to convince President Obama to take "chained CPI "out of the debate over sequestration cuts and a new budget deal.

In a blog post last night, the White House reiterated that president is still open to chained CPI, which would reduce Social Security payments over time by using a formula different from the one that is currently used to calculate inflation.

The White House calls it a cost-saving reform; liberals call it a cut, and one that they can't support.

"Voters across the political spectrum oppose cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits, and we must do whatever it takes to protect these vital benefits from cuts," wrote twenty lawmakers in a letter to the president.

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"That’s why we write to let you know that we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits-- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need."

The signatories include Jerry Nadler, Jose Serrano and Nydia Velazquez, and is being pushed by the Working Families Party, Moveon.org, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which are calling on their members to pressure more representatives into joining the letter.

Nadler, in a statement, said he would "fight like hell against any deficit plan that cuts these programs or fails to address our immediate jobs problem."

So far, 20 liberals have signed onto the letter, representing a small minority of a minority in House. But they're hoping that their stance gives other liberals something to rally around, and effects the contours of the final deal, if there is one. 

(The letter isn't explicit about whether the signatories would prefer sequestration to a deal that includes chained CPI.)

Republican leaders have relied on Democrats to pass economic bills in the new Congress, and a compromise budget deal might need significant Democratic support in order to pass.

Here's the full letter:

Dear President Obama:

We join millions of Americans in applauding your Inaugural Address declaration that “we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”

Democrats have built the most popular government programs in American history – including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security -- by working with Republicans whenever possible and by defeating Republican opposition whenever necessary. The torch has been passed to today’s elected officials, and we must carry it forward boldly.

Voters across the political spectrum oppose cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits, and we must do whatever it takes to protect these vital benefits from cuts.

That’s why we write to let you know that we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits -- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.

We firmly believe that the best way to reduce our deficit and make our economy grow is to create jobs, and we look forward to a returned focus on this core issue.

We also know that there are common-sense reforms that would reduce health-care costs and save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars without cutting benefits. If Republicans oppose these reforms, and insist on benefits cuts, that proves they are not concerned about the deficit – but instead are trying to tear the social safety net and cause pain for our constituents who can least absorb it.

Finally, Americans agree that there is more that must be done to require the rich and giant corporations to pay their fair share. Indeed, it is their patriotic duty to do so.

As you negotiate with Republicans, you deserve to know that millions of Americans and the below signed Members of Congress stand ready to fight for the principles listed above.