By Representative Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA-35)
Social Security is a promise our country must keep. If you work and pay into the system, you should have the opportunity to retire with dignity and respect. This promise is part of what makes America exceptional — the idea that after a lifetime of work, Americans deserve security in retirement.
However, in tough economic times, our seniors — many of whom live on fixed incomes — get hit the hardest. From increasing medical expense costs to the rising cost of living, our seniors are facing greater economic insecurities. This is why we must protect Social Security from cuts and work to lower medical costs for this generation and the generations to come.
As a member of Congress, I have sought to protect Social Security and have advocated for seniors. From writing to President Obama urging him to exclude chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) from his 2015 budget to drafting legislation to help seniors save on tax deductions for medical expenses — I have fought to ensure Congress does not try to balance the budget on the backs of seniors.
I believe Congress and the President should take plans for deficit reduction elsewhere. Social Security is a self-funded program and has no place in the deficit reduction debate. I will continue to oppose the proposed cuts to the Cost of Living Adjustment for Social Security because it will hurt our most vulnerable seniors. The average senior who retires at 65 will lose about $6,000 over 15 years if chained CPI were put into place. For seniors living on a fixed income it could greatly impact their quality of life.
Instead, I am a strong supporter of the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act of 2013. This legislation would change the way the Social Security Administration calculates the Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) by switching from a CPI based on urban wage earners to a formula that would better reflect the spending of seniors. Unlike younger Americans, seniors spend a disproportionate amount of their income on medical expenses and it is crucial that we raise the Cost of Living Adjustment to keep up with the rising cost of medical expenses.
Social Security provides the income and access to health care that seniors rely on each and every day. They are benefits my generation has earned – and future generations have been promised. We must work together and make sure our country keeps this promise.
Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod represents California's 35th Congressional District encompassing the communities of Bloomington, Chino, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona, and portions of Fontana and Rialto.