On Wednesday, AARP volunteers and staff will visit Capitol Hill to deliver a strong message to Congress on the fiscal cliff: leave Social Security and Medicare off the table.
The lobbying organization for seniors, which has issued a series of letters to Congress on the matter, is warning top lawmakers against making changes to the programs in order to reach a deal ahead of January 1, when simultaneous tax hikes and spending cuts threaten to throw the country into an economic crisis.
"Americans have spoken and they don’t want Congress or the President to make changes to Social Security or Medicare in any last minute deficit deal,” AARP’s volunteer president Rob Romasco said in a statement. "In the long-term we need to strengthen Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, but shifting costs to the older and less fortunate among us is not going to make our country stronger. Instead, it would erode our economic security at a time when Americans need it the most."
Specifically, AARP opposes changes to Social Security's cost of living adjustments, or COLAs. The fiscal deal proposal offered by Republicans on Monday suggests changing the way inflation is calculated, which would reduce COLAs by over $100 billion over the next decade according to the Congressional Budget Office.
"Reducing Social Security benefits by moving to a chained consumer price index (CCPI) –- estimated to take $112 billion dollars out of the pockets of current and future Social Security beneficiaries in the next 10 years alone – is inappropriate and unwarranted," AARP CEO A. Barry Rand wrote in a letter to lawmakers earlier this month.
AARP also opposes raising the Medicare eligibility age and extending the Social Security payroll tax holiday, which has proved to be a tricky issue for the White House to navigate.
As Obama and congressional Democrats work to reach a deal with Republicans, the issue of putting social programs on the table has been a source of contention. While some party leaders, like Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), have said that proposals like raising the Medicare eligibility age shouldn't be ruled out, other Democrats have taken a firm stance against changes to the programs.