The release of the White House’s 2014 budget in April 2013 was a stomach-churning occasion for American seniors who depend on Social Security.
In an effort to woo the austerity-now crowd, President Barack Obama included in his proposal a new formula to calculate Social Security cost-of-living adjustments: the chained consumer price index, or chained CPI. Presented as a harmless technocratic fix, chained CPI would have hit America’s retirees in the pocketbook by reducing their Social Security cost-of-living increases.
At the time, much of Washington was fixated on the “grand bargain”—a long-term bipartisan budget deal. To centrist Democrats, chained CPI seemed like the ideal bargaining chip to nudge Republicans into accepting modest tax increases on the wealthy.
This year, Obama’s 2015 budget includes no mention of chained CPI—a victory that can be attributed to progressive organizers working inside and outside the halls of Congress.