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Poll shows older Americans oppose cost-of-living trim

April 08, 2013|By Lisa Mascaro
  • Copies of the fiscal 2014 budget sit on display at the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington.
Copies of the fiscal 2014 budget sit on display at the U.S. Government Printing… (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg )

WASHINGTON -- New polling shows older Americans overwhelmingly resisting President Obama’s effort to pare back cost-of-living adjustments for seniors, veterans and the disabled as part of his budget overture to the GOP.

Nearly 70% of those age 50 and older oppose lowering the annual inflation adjustment, including robust majorities of Republican, Democratic and independent voters, according to a survey by an independent firm released Monday by the AARP, the powerful seniors lobby.

Seventy-eight percent oppose applying the reduction to veterans’ benefits.

Obama will propose the inflation adjustment tweak in his 2014 budget, which will be formally unveiled Wednesday, as he tries to broker a deficit-cutting deal with Republicans who have favored the move. The proposal will likely be discussed as Obama courts GOP senators at dinner this week.

Some economists believe the government overestimates inflation costs. The slight downward shift would shave a few dollars each month off the government benefits for individuals, and bring in billions in savings for the Treasury. It would also increase tax revenue by more slowly pushing up the tax brackets to capture more as incomes are expected to rise, economists say.

Obama’s allies on the left have pushed back swiftly against the proposal, and it was shot down in a test vote in the Senate last month.

The AARP notes that 66% of older American voters would be considerably less favorable to their representatives or senators if the member of Congress voted in favor of the proposal.

“This cut to Social Security would break the promise to seniors and hurt veterans who’ve sacrificed so much for this great country,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond. “As this survey shows, older Americans oppose the 'chained CPI' and they’ve historically made their opinions known to their elected officials.”   

The survey was conducted March 19-20.

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