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Social Security is sacred

4/11/2013, 2:15 p.m.

If we're reading the tea leaves correctly, President Barack Obama's budget plan contains some good news and perhaps a bit too much bad news. And at the core of this financial configuration is a compromise to rein in the often stubborn Republicans.

First the good news: It is rumored that on Wednesday, the president will present a budget to grow our economy, improve the employment picture and further bolster middle-class Americans. According to several pundits, the budget will also include an expansion of early childhood education, and this increase will be facilitated by a hike on the cigarette tax.

Now the bad news: To get any of this done, the president will propose a chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Social Security along with the sacrifice of $400 billion from Medicare over the next decade.

While such a plan may appeal to Republicans, it has aroused Democrats and labor leaders, and the other day, more than 2 million signed petitions were delivered to the White House protesting the planned cuts.

In our story this week on Social Security, we explain the dangers of the chained CPI Social Security cuts, but given its importance to our seniors, it bears repeating.

The cuts in Social Security begin less ominously, with a modest reduction of benefits by only 0.3 percent in the first year. But for average workers retiring at 65, according to the nonpartisan Center for Economic Policy and Research, that's a loss of $650 a year by the time they hit 75 and a loss of more than $1,100 by the age 85.

Such decreases for those on a fixed income can be devastating, and so we join those petitioners demanding the president to reconsider this proposal and find some other way to bring the Republicans to the table with an agreement.

During a recent televised appearance, Damon Silvers, the policy director for the AFL-CIO, summarized what we feel is the right reaction to the president's plan.

"It is unconscionable to ask seniors, people with disabilities and veterans who are barely making it to be squeezed even tighter at a time when corporations and the wealthiest 2 percent are not paying their fair share of taxes, despite soaring profits," Silvers wrote. "It's bad policy to make cuts that will weaken our economic recovery.

"The majority of Americans oppose cuts to our country's most important family protection programs. It's time to make some noise about it," he added. "We need to invest in America's working families, not pull the rug out from under them."

From the very beginning of his two terms, Obama often cited the magnificent achievements of FDR, particularly his New Deal, which helped to rescue the nation from the Great Depression. Now he threatens to tamper with a signature piece of Roosevelt's recovery act, threatening to unravel a precious safety net for our seniors.

Not only is this unconscionable, as Silvers notes, but it is reprehensible; if this is proposed, it will leave an irredeemable mark on Obama's legacy.

Mr. President, why not take into consideration some other measures to appease the recalcitrant Republicans? We have to be concerned about any plan you propose that can find someone like Sen. Lindsay Graham applauding it.

Please Mr. President, you have promised on more than one occasion never to mess with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and now cuts to all of them seem imminent. This is your last term in office, so don't ruin it with cuts that will live with you forever and live just as long with those enduring them.