Pelosi caves on Chained CPI: “I consider it a strengthening of Social Security”

There’s news on the Chained CPI catfood front, starting with Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi has drunk the kool-aid. It looks like one bold “progressive” has hit the dirt, caved, collapsed, gone the way of all DC flesh. Nancy Pelosi now favors benefits cuts to Social Security as part of the President’s personal Grand Bargain. Talking Points Memo, citing a Pelosi press conference on Dec 19 (Wednesday; my emphasis and paragraphing):

Though Chained CPI would reduce lifetime benefits relative to the current cost of living adjustment formula, Pelosi said she does not consider it a benefit cut. “No, I don’t,” consider it a benefit cut, she said. “I consider it a strengthening of Social Security.”

This after much big talk just last year:

Pelosi digs in to the left of Obama in debt battle

Nancy PelosiIssuing an ultimatum to a president of her own party, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is betting that she can recapture the speakership in a high-stakes game of brinkmanship over raising the $14 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2. The San Francisco Democrat has told President Obama that House Democrats will not vote for any trims to future benefits in Medicare or Social Security, even a tweak to the cost-of-living index to restrain benefit growth. Obama has made clear that he is open to cuts in entitlement programs.

But after being dismissed in Washington as largely irrelevant following the Democrats’ loss of the House in November’s elections, Pelosi now controls the precious Democratic votes Obama needs for a deal that would prevent a U.S. default that his Treasury secretary warned could be catastrophic. Pelosi has framed her stand as “no benefit cuts in Medicare or Social Security” and emphasized that she has made that position known with “full clarity” to the White House.

Nice “ultimatum” — but that was when talk was just talk, you know, pre-election.

■  The Hill says there’s a battle in the Dem caucus over this:

[M]any rank-and-file members are up in arms over the White House offer. Emerging from a Democratic Caucus meeting Tuesday morning – where they were briefed on Obama’s plan by top White House adviser Rob Nabors – the Democrats pushed back hard against the president’s proposal to reduce future cost-of-living raises for beneficiaries of the popular retirement program. The change — known as the chained consumer price index (CPI) — is said to cut $130 billion in federal spending over a decade, and would include safeguards to protect the most vulnerable seniors.

“I don’t like it at all,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). “A terrible idea,” said Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “We don’t like the chained CPI,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) “We don’t like it,” said Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.). “Why are you hurting the vulnerable seniors?”

Both [caucus leaders] Hoyer and Pelosi said changes to Social Security updates would be much easier for Democrats to swallow than proposals to raise Medicare’s eligibility age. “The age limit is much more sensitive,” Hoyer said.

I bolded the names of some of the good guys. Those are people you should be calling, so they … well … stay good. And here’s a wobbly one:

Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), vice-chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, has for weeks attacked efforts to cut Social Security as part of the fiscal cliff talks — including the move to chained CPI. And while he reiterated that position Tuesday, he was also careful not to attack Obama’s chained CPI proposal directly.

House phone numbers here.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is holding strong, so far. This from a letter from Keith Ellison to Speaker Boehner:

We are writing to inform you that we will oppose including Social Security cuts for future or current beneficiaries in any deficit reduction package.

That letter has 102 signatures, some of them “New Dems”. If you click, you can see the signatures. In addition, lots of members of the CPC are making strong public statements against Chained CPI (click to see who), and the clock is ticking.

Again, House phone numbers here. Keep them strong — sometimes they “forget.”

And then there’s this, from

Defiant House Progressives To Nancy Pelosi: We Will Not Vote To Cut Social Security Benefits

Earlier today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she would support President Obama’s proposed Social Security benefit cuts — even arguing that using the “chained CPI” would not be a benefit cut after previously telling President Obama “that House Democrats will not vote for any trims to future benefits in Medicare or Social Security, even a tweak to the cost-of-living index,” according to her hometown paper.

A defiant Congressional Progressive Caucus — which has 75 Members in the House — pushed back …

Click through to see who and how. Looks like a fight to me. And thank god for that; my personal bottom line has always been — January 1 with no damage done. Please god please.

Where we are so far

Who knows? I can’t find anyone who’s tried to work out a whip count — a list of who’s in and who’s out based on taxes (Tea Partyers supposedly hate them, but Norquist is for them now) and social program cuts (like Chained CPI, a former Dem care-about).

Will House members — progressives and “progressives” — defy Hoyer and Pelosi, now that Hoyer and Pelosi speak with one Obama-bot mind? This could come down to the wire.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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