Sanders to Propose Social Security COLA

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Related media: Watch a video of Bernie speaking about Social Security during a Senate hearing

The Social Security Administration is expected to announce this week that more than 58 million retirees will get no increase next year in their monthly benefits. Inflation estimates by the Bureau of Labor Statistics due out on Friday are likely to result in no change in benefits for only the second time since automatic adjustments for inflation were adopted in 1974. Sen. Bernie Sanders announced that he will press for passage when Congress returns in November of $250 in emergency relief for Social Security recipients and disabled veterans to compensate for a lack of a COLA in 2011. 

President Obama earlier this year supported a Sanders amendment to provide a $250 payment in lieu of a cost-of-living raise for Social Security recipients and disabled veterans. The proposal was defeated on March 3, when only one Republican voted to allow the amendment to be considered.

Sanders said the estimated $13 billion cost of the help for seniors struggling to pay rising health care and prescription drug costs is only a fraction of the $70 billion in annual tax breaks that Senate Republicans are pushing for the wealthiest Americans.

"During these very difficult economic times many seniors and disabled veterans are spending a lot of their limited incomes on rising health care and prescription drugs costs. They need help.” Sanders said. “It makes a lot more sense to me to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our country with the equivalent of a COLA than it does to give huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires.  I very much hope that the Republicans will not, filibuster this proposal” he added.

In addition to the White House backing for Sanders proposal, AARP, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion were among the organizations that backed his amendment earlier this year.

The news that there will be no increase in benefits comes as Social Security is under attack by forces that want to raise the retirement age to 70 or privatize the successful 75-year-old program.