The Unchained Gang

Earlier this week, President Obama floated a Social Security-cutting proposal for fiscal cliff evasive action that shocked the Democratic Party. And by “the Democratic Party,” I mean Dems who didn’t watch the first Presidential debate.

The plan, which is known as “chained CPI,” is an alternative way to calculate inflation by assuming that consumers substitute expensive commodities for cheaper ones. The ol’ tuna fish for cat food switcheroo. It has been estimated to cut Social Security payments by a few hundred to a few thousand dollars annually, depending on the retiree’s age.

Although its highly unlikely that the President’s proposal will be voted on — Republicans have indicated they won’t support any tax increases for anyone making under a million dollars — he’ll have to fight like hell to have his own party swallow the deal, despite Nancy Pelosi’s proclamation, yesterday, that “Democrats will stick with the president” (although, she noted in an understated bit of caution, “maybe not every single one of them.”)

If criticism from Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison is any indication, the President’s plan to cut Social Security might be without at least 70 votes or so.

Grijavla — who, by the way, progressive activists want to see named next Secretary of the Interior should Ken Salazar steps down — told CNBC that he’d rather go over the fiscal cliff than accept a deal that reduces Social Security benefits.

Ellison issued a statement saying that he is “committed to standing against any benefit cuts to programs Americans rely on and tying Social Security benefits to chained CPI is a benefit cut.”

The Progressive Caucus’ rank-and-file and other leftish Dems don’t seem too amused by the proposal, either. POLITICO quoted Sherrod Brown, Jan Schakowsky, Ben Cardin, Jim McGovern, and Charles Rangel expressing fierce opposition to the plan, and co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee Adam Green warning Dems that they could face a tougher primary challenge if they support the President on this.

Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.