One Question

One Question for U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell

With an Obama deficit deal on the table that cuts Social Security, will Washington State's liberal senators stand pat?

By Josh Feit December 19, 2012


One Question

 In September, 29 Democratic U.S. senators, including Washington state Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (along with fellow liberal Sens. Barbara Boxer, Al Franken, and Harry Reid), signed a letter stating that they would not accept cuts to Social Security benefits as part of a deficit reduction deal.

"We are writing to inform you that we will oppose including Social Security cuts for future or current beneficiaries in any deficit reduction package," the group wrote in a stern message to their senate colleagues.

Alas, the current deficit deal that Democratic President Obama has on the table—which may increase taxes on the very very wealthy and limit tax deductions—includes something called "Chained CPI." This is a euphemism for cutting social security benefits.

Rather than tracking Social Security payments to the the standard CPI, "Chained CPI"  goes with more modest increases in inflation because it offsets price increases by speculating that people change or switch their purchasing habits. (Here's a wonky explanation which shows that a "Chained-CPI" plan would cut Social Security benefits by 5 percent right away.)


 Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell signed on to a September 20 letter vowing to oppose cuts to Social Security

PubliCola asked Sens. Murray and Cantwell if they stood by their pledge not to support a deal that included cuts to Social Security.

Sen. Murray's spokesman Eli Zupnick told us:

Senator Murray continues to believe that including Social Security cuts is not the right approach and that the most vulnerable need to be protected in any deficit deal.

Sen. Cantwell's spokesman Jared Leopold—a bit more on point—told us:

Senator Cantwell continues to oppose cuts to Social Security benefits, including chained CPI. She is fighting to ensure that Washington seniors are protected in a deficit reduction package.

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